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'10*£& SATURDAY JAN. 31 $ 4°2 


by Charles B. Stilson 

Author of “A Man Named Jones,’ 
“Polaris of the Snows,” etc. 




ElmerRichards 


Celebrated 


“Winter King” 
16 - Inch 

Men’s High Cut Shoe 


$2.30 a month— six months to pay. Total $14.65. 
Shipped on Money-Back guarantee. 

Not a benny charge for credit — 

No discount for cash 

ChromeTanSolidLeatherThroughout 

16 inches tall. Every inch selected, softest, pliable, 
tough, storm-proof, solid, dark Chrome tan leather. 
The best wearing leather in the world and at the 
same time comfortable and easy on the feet. Full 
oak tanned, double soles. Solid leather heels. Bellows 
tongue, same superb quality tan leather. Full vamp, 
runs all the way under toe cap. Leather counters, 
Leather insoles. Back seams reinforced. Two straps 
and buckles. Positively the best shoe in the world 
for work or hunting. 

Sizes 6 to 11. Order by No. A-7. Be sure to give your 
Size. $1.00 cash, $2.30 monthly. Total $14.65. 

r- Or tier Now 

V The Stock is Limited 

MONEY-BACK COUPON 

Elmer Richards Co., D - 9371 w ' s * 

I enclose $1.00. Send Men’s 16-inch High Cut Shoe. No. A 7 

Size No. A7. if j am no t satisfied when 

I receive these shoes, I can return them and get 
my $1.00 back with charges. Otherwise I will 
pay the advertised terms of $2.30 a month. 

Total price $14.65. 


16 - 

Inch 

Solid 

pliable 

high- 

grade 

chrome 

tan 

leather 


Real, Honest 
Leather 
Throughout 

Elmer Richards Co. 

Dept. 9071 W. 35th St., Chicago 


Ad dr eta . . . 

Post Office. 
State 


Name.. 


ADVERTISING SECTION. 



QURLir>«TOrt 


Adjusted to the Second - Adjusted to Temperature - Adjusted to Isochronism - Adjusted to Positions 
25-Year Cold-Strata Case-Genuine Montgomery Railroad Dial -New Art Designs -Extra Thin Cases 


Y OU pay only this small amount each' month for this masterpiece, sold 
to you at the direct rock-bottom price, the lowest price at which a 
Burlington is sold. This masterpiece of watch manufacture is adjusted 
to position, adjusted to temperature, and adjusted to isochronism. Send 
the coupon today for free book on watches. 


Send ihe Coupon 


You do not pay a cent until you tee the watch. Send the coupon today for this great hook 
on watches, and full information of the $3.50 a month offer on the Burlington Watch. Don’t 
delay. Act right NOW 1 

Burlington Watch Co., 19th St. and Marshall Blvd., Chicago, 111. 


Burlington Watch Co.,£ft,!5L 18Z&SI Chicago 

333 Portcce Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba 
Please send me (without obligation and prepaid) your free book on watches with 
full explanation of your cash or $3.50 a month ofTcr on the Burlington Watch. 


Name 


Address 


; ' ■ 


ALL-STORY In answering this advertisement it is desiruble that yea mention this munozine. 


ALL- STORY WEEKLY 


Volume CVI 


« 3 > 


Q 

7% U 

2 , 


CONTENTS FOR JANUARY 31, 1920 




jo r 

is ^ 


Number 3 



The entire contents of this magazine are protected by copyright, and must not be reprinted without the publishers' permission. 


SIX CONTINUED STORIES 

Little Crooked Master Charles B. Stilson . . 

A Four-Part Story — Part One 

The People of the Golden Atom . . Ray Cummings 

A Sequel to “ The Girl in the Golden Atom ” — A “Different ” Serial 
A Six-Part Story — Part Two 

The Eye of 1 Balamok Victor Rousseau . 

A Three-Part Story — Part Three 

The Big Story George Dilnot . . . 

A Five-Part Story — Part Four 

Raspberry Jam Carolyn Wells . . . 

A Five-Part Story — Part Five 

The Gold Girl . . . . . . . . James B. Hendryx 

A Six-Part Story — Part Six 

ONE NOVELETTE 


321 

373 

390 

414 

439 

456 


In the Words of Silence 

Douglas Dold . 

. . 353 

FIVE SHORT 

STORIES 


The People of the Glacier .... Clyde B. Hough . 
V— WINGS AGAINST THE CAVE WALLS 

. . 348 

“ This Beats Hell ” 

Dixie Willson . 

. . 407 

Over the Wire 

Eugene Jones . 

. . 433 

The Worth of the Diamond .... 

Patterson McNutt 

. . 454 

Eleven Hundred Bucks 

Evans Emoe Kel . 

. . 471 


VERSE 


Love’s Eyes Melba Parker 347 

Love’s Alphabet Clinton Scollard 389 

Remembrance .... 


The Way of the World . . Harold Seton 406 

Between Grace H. Boutelle 413 

Louis Ginsberg 433 


Heart to Heart Talks The Editor 


478 


THE FRANK A. MUNSEY COMPANY, 280 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, and TEMPLE HOUSE, TEMPLE AVENUE, E. C„ LONDON 

Frank A. Munsey, President Richard H. Titherington, Secretary Christopher H. Pope, Treasurer 

Single copies, lO cents. By the year, $4.00 in United States, its dependencies, Mexico and Cuba ; $6.00 to Canada, and $7.00 to Foreign 
Countries. Remittances should be made by check, express money order or postal money order. Currency should not be sent unless registered 

PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE FRANK A. MUNSEY COMPANY. COPYRIGHT, 1920 
Entered as second class matter May 17, 1915, at the Post-Office at New York, under the Act of March 3, 1879 


COPYRIGHTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 


ADVERTISING SECTION. 



Drawing Outfit 

and 

Drawing Table 


• -»— ■** 


I am Chief Draftsman of a large and 
well known firm. I have been doing 
i the highest paying expert drafting 
| work for a quarter of a century and 
a I know just the kind of training 
A that is demanded from men who 
B get the big salaries. I train you by 
r giving you actual, practical work, the 


SIZE 
20 m 25 
INCH 


Complete Set of 

Drawing Instruments 
and Drawing Table 

Yes, I will give you this com- 
plete drawing outfit absolutely free. The 
instruments are in a handsome high 
class, plush lined folding case. They 
are regular draftsman’s working in- 
struments. Besides I will give you ab- 
solutely free, a 20 x 25 inch drawing 
board, a 24 inch T square, a 12 inch rule, 
a supply of drawing paper, two triangles, 
a French curve, pencils, erasers, thumb 
tacks, etc. 

Delivered at Once 

The drawing table is the ‘‘Chief’s Own” adjustable folding 

Drawing Table, same as used and needed by first class draftsmen. 
The complete outfit and table are delivered to you at once. You have 
them to work with from the very first day. 

Be a Draftsman 

Draw $175.00 to $250.00 Per Month 

There is an urgent demand for skilled draftsmen. Companies are 
issuing calls every day for men to fill positions paying from $175.00 to $250.00 per 
month. Work is li ght, pleasant and profitable. 

Chief Draftsman £”'£55* 


kind that you must be able to do to 
hold permanentj big paying positions. 
I give you my individual instruction. 
If your work is right, I will advance you 
rapidly. If it is wrong, I will show you where 
and make you do it right, and do all I can to 
make you an expert draftsman and designer 
in a short time. Write today without fail. 


What I want i s the right 
kind of men. Don’t bother 


Chief Draftsman Dobe 

ENGINEER’S EQUIPMENT COMPANY 
Div. 1451, Chicago, 111. 

Without any obligation on me whatsoever, please mail your book, 
“Successful Draftsmanship.* ’ and full particulars of your liberal 
•'Personal Instruction" offer to a few students. It is understood 
that I am obligated in no way whatever. 


PayAsYou Wish 

you the working outfit free if you get in at once. I charge a very 
small fee for training you to be an experienced draftsman. You 
can pay the small cost as suits you best. 


SendCouponforMyBig 
NewBook " 


Put your name and address on the 
coupon or a letter or a post card 
and send it to me today. I will send 
you, absolutely free and postpaid, 
tny new book “Successful Draftsmanship,” and the greatepecial 
0“ er that I am now making on which you get the complete 

flame ^ Draftsman’s Working Outfit and Drawing Table absolutely 

% * r ®«- ^ ou assame no obligations of any kind in sending in 

m w 6 9 ou P on - Get in line for a big paying position. Getting the 

AAArt>*n w hook and full particulars of the special offer is the first step. 

V CHIEF DRAFTSMAN DOBE 

^ ^^^Digineei^Eij^ipmentCo^ 


In answering this advertisement it is desirable that you mention this magazine. 



is to put the reader in touch imme- 
diately with the newest needfuls for 
the home, office, farm, or person; 
to offer, or seek, an unusual busi- 
ness opportunity, or to suggest a 
service that may be performed satis- 
factorily through correspondence. 
It will pay a housewife or business 
man equally well to read these 
advertisements carefully. 


Classified Advertising Rates 
in The Munsey Magazines : 

Line Rate' 
Munsey’s Magazine - $1.50 
The Argosy Comb’n 

The Argosy . . . \ 

All- Story Weekly . / 1,75 


Combination 
Line Rate 
$3.25 
Leu 2 C cask 
discount 


Feb. 28th Argosy Combination Forms Close Feb. 4th. 


“A New Force In Business " is a booklet that tells how 
to advertise successfully in the Classified Department 
of the Munsey Magazines. Mailed anywhere on request. 


AGENTS & SALESMEN WANTED AGENTS & SALESMEN WANTED 


RAINCOAT AGENTS, I’ll pay you $12 daily taking orders for 
Reversible Raincoats. Two coats in one. One side rich, tan 
dress coat, other side storm overcoat. Something brand new. 
Not sold in stores. Also other styles. Dozens of fabrics for men, 
women, children. Popular prices. Newest styles. Guaranteed 
waterproof or money back. We manufacture and make to 
measure. Shortage of raincoats and high cost of overcoats 
make sales easv. Elaborate outfit and sample coat to workers. 
Parker Mfg. Co., 506 Rue Street, Dayton, Ohio. 


$65.00 A WEEK AND YOUR SUIT FREE — 

If you take advantage of our startling offer. Write 
us at once, and we will send you a full line of 
samples and everything necessary to start at once, 
absolutely free, postage prepaid. Spencer Mead Company, 
Dept. 1103, Chicago. 


AGENTS: SELL NEVERFAIL IRON RUST AND STAIN 
REMOVER. HUGE PROFITS. BIG LINE. SAMPLE. 

Write today. Sanford-Beal Co., Inc., Newark, N. Y., Dept. A. 


SELL What Millions Want. New. wonderful Liberty Portraits. 
Creates tremendous interest. Absolutely different; unique; enor- 
mous demand— 30 hours’ service. Liberal credit. Outfit and 
catalogue Free. $100 weekly profit easy. Consolidated Portrait Co., 
Dept. 22, 1036 W. Adams Street. Chicago. 


MIRACLE MOTOR-GAS amazes motorists. 3c worth equals 
gallon gasoline. Eliminates carbon. 300% profit. Isom. Idaho, 
wires: ■‘Ship 500 packages. Made $70 yesterday." Investigate. 
Chas. H. Butler Co.. Dept. 107, Toledo. Ohio. 


Don’t accept agency until you get particulars regarding Bero Tablets. 

400% profit. Customers excited. Agents coining money. Prohibition 
assures quick sales. Wonderful opportunity. Write quick. Par- 
ticulars free; sample 2 5c. Bero Co., 545*6 No. Dearborn, Chicago. 

AGENTS— MAKE A DOLLAR AN HOUR. SELL MEN DET8, 

a patent patch for instantly mending leaks in all utensils. 
Sample package free. Collette Manufacturing Company, 
Dept. 306 -B, Amsterdam. N. Y. 


Wonderful Sanitary Whispering Mouthpiece for telephones. Gives 

secrecv in conversation. Unlimited field. Every telephone user a 
prospect. Retails $1. 100% commission. Sample 50c postpaid. 
Colytt Laboratories. Dept. M. 565 W. Washington St., Chicago. 


Mexican Diamonds Flash Like Genuine, fool experts, stand tests, 
yet sell for l-50th the price. Few live Agents wanted to sell from 
handsome sample case. Big profits, pleasant work. Write today. 
Mexican Diamond lmptg. Co.. Box SS, Las Cruces, N. Mexico. 


WE START YOU IN BUSINESS, furnishing everything. 
Men and women, $30.00 to $100.00 weekly operating our 
"New System Specialty Candy Factories" anywhere. Opportunity 
lifetime; booklet free. Ragsdale Co., Drawer 93, East Orange. N.J. 


$10 DAILY: GOLD WINDOW LETTERS; SAMPLE FREE. 

Write to-day. Detroit Sign Letter Company, Dept. A, 
1043 Gratiot Avenue. Detroit, Mich. 


SALES AGENTS WANTED IN EVERY COUNTY TO 
GIVE ALL OR SPARE TIME. Position worth $750 to 
$1500 yearly. We train the inexperienced. Novelty Cutlery Co., 
77 Bar Street. Canton. Ohio. 


YOUNG MAN. WOULD YOU ACCEPT A TAILOR-MADE 
SUIT just for showing it to your friends? Then write Banner 
Tailoring Co., Dept. 400, Chicago, and get beautiful samples, 
styles and a wonderful offer. 


AGENTS: $100 weekly possible introducing new winter auto- 
mobile fuel. Specially adapted to cold weather. Starts easy. 
Adds power, mileage and reduces operating expense. Endorsed 
by thousands. Territory going like wildfire. Act quick. $28 
sample outfit free. L. Ballwey, Dept. 57, Louisville, Ky. 


MICHIGAN FARM LANDS FORS ALE 


LAND! LAND! BIG MONEY IN GRAINS, 

livestock, fruit, poultry, Michigan's best hardwood land. 
Only $15 to $35 per acre. Easy terms. Markets, schools, 
churches. Free insurance. Farm advisers. No swamps or stones. 
10 to 160 acres. Best land offer in United States from largest 
company. Booklet free. Write today. Swigart Land Company, 
Y1245 First National Bank Building, Chicago, 111. 


LIVE WIRE AGENTS! WE WANT YOU! Take orders for 
The Liberty Line of Made-to- Measure combination Top-Coats, 
Raincoats and Automobile Coats. Hundreds of orders waiting 
for you. Our stock of materials is tremendous and deliveries 
are prompt. Complete selling outfit and sample coat free. 
Biggest commissions paid. We deliver and collect. Join our sales 
force of the biggest money-makers by writing for particulars at 
once. The Liberty Raincoat Company, Dept. A-3, Dayton, Ohio. 


SALESMEN — .Side or main line, to sell low-priced 5,000-mile 
guaranteed tires; 30x3 non-skid sells for $11.95; other sizes in 
proportion. Good money-making proposition for live wires. Write 
Consolidated Tire Co., 1777 Broadway, New York City. 


Salesmen : If you are looking for new money-making specialties, 

Mr. Opportunity is here, ready to serve you with the best paying 
and livest lines of ready selling Automobile Specialties ever offered. 
Splendid opportunity for territory managers, sell auto owners, deal- 
ers and appoint sub-agents. Every co-operation, exclusive territory 
contract, particulars and complete selling plan free. Don’t pass 
this up. Write quick. Car-Bon Ale Sales Co., Dept. E, Lincoln, 
Nebraska. 


MR. GALLAHER MADE $336.00 IN ONE WEEK selling 

Guaranteed Collection Cabinets, used by all business men. 
Write to-day. Sayers Mfg. Co., 2875 Sheffield Ave., Chicago, 111. 


INSYDE TYRES — Inner Armor For Auto Tires. Doublesmile- 

age, prevents 90% of all punctures and blowouts. Thousands in 
use. Tremendous demand. Big sales. Liberal profits. Details free. 
American Automobile Accessories Co., Dept. 165, Cincinnati, O. 


AGENTS— OUR SOAP AND TOILET ARTICLE PLAN 
IS A WONDER. Get our Free Sample Case Offer. Ho-Ro-Co, 
137 Locust, St. Louis, Mo. 


DAVIS’ LUCKY ’LEVEN SELLING BETTER THAN 
EVER. $3.35 value sells for $1.25. Mrs. Lewis sold 280 in 7% 
days — profit $200. " 37 ” varieties of other big winners — 150%- 
250% profit. Great crew managers' proposition. E. M. Davis, 
Dept. 58. Chicago. 


AGENTS— $40 TO $100 A WEEK. Free Samples. Gold 

and silver Sign Letters for stores and office windows. Anyone 
can put them on. Big demand. Liberal offer to general agents. 
Metallic Letter Co., 431-H, N. Clark, Chicago. 

AGENTS— YOUR OWN CLOTHES FREE and $60.00 a week. 
Start in your spare time. Tailoring business simply great thii 
year. Write American W’oolen Mills Company, Dept. 1433, 
Chicago, for cloth samples of 60 big sensational sellers. 


WE PAY $100 MONTHLY SALARY AND FURNISH RIG 

AND EXPENSES to introduce guaranteed poultry and stock 
Powders. Bigler Company, X-506, Springfield, Illinois. 


DO YOU WANT AGENTS AND SALESMEN 

to sell your merchandise? Men and women who are educated 
in personal salesmanship and know the house-to-house, office, 
and store canvassing proposition. These advertisers are getting 
them year in and year out, and there are thousands more for 
you among the 5,000,000 readers of The Munsey Magazines. Our 
Classified Service Bureau will gladly show you how to use this 
section most profitably and at the least cost. Write to-day to the 
Classified Manager, The Argosy Combination, 280 B'way, N. Y. 


AUTHORS— MANUSCRIPTS 


STORIES, POEMS. PLAYS, ETC., 
ARE WANTED FOR PUBLICATION. Good ideas bring 
big money. Submit Mss. or write Literary Bureau, 110, 
Hannibal, Mo. 


WRITERS: HAVE YOU A POEM, STORY OR PHOTOPLAY 
TO SELL? Submit MSS. at once to Music Sales Company, 
Dept. 60, St. Louis, Mo. 


FREE TO WRITERS — a wonderful little book of money- 
making hints, suggestions, ideas; the A B C of successful 
Story and Movie-Play writing. Absolutely free. Send for your 
copy now! Just address Authors* Press. Dept. 19, Auburn. N. Y. 

WANTED— STORIES. ARTICLES. POEMS for New Maga- 
zine. We pay on acceptance. Typed or handwritten MSS. 
acceptable. Send MSS. to Woman's National Magazine, 
Desk 139. Washington. D. C. 


Classified Advertising continued on page 3, back section. 


In answering any advertisement on this page it is desirable that you mention this magazine. 


ADVERTISING SECTION 



In answering this advertisement it is desirable that you mention this magazine. 



ADVERTISING SECTION. 



Free Proof that I Can 
Poise Your Pay 


No matter how much you are earning now, I can 
show you how to increase it. I have even taken 
failures and shown them how to make $100 — $200, 
and in one case as high as $2,000 weekly. 1 am 
willing to prove this entirely at my risk and expense. 


I ET’S have a little chat about getting ahead 
— you and I. My name is Pelton. Lots 
of people call me “ The Man Who 
Makes Men Rich.” I don’t deny it. I’ve 
done it for thousands of people — lifted them 
up from poverty to riches. 

I’m no genius — far from it. I’m just a 
plain, everyday, unassuming sort of man. I 
know what poverty is. I’ve looked black de- 
spair in the eye — had failure stalk me around 
and hoodoo everything I did. I’ve known the 
bitterest kind of want. 

But to-day all is different. I have money 
and all of the things that money will buy. I 
am rich also in the things that money won’t 
buy — health, happiness and friendship. Few 7 
people have more of the blessings of the world 
than I. 

It was a simple thing that jumped me up 
from poverty to riches. As I’ve said, I’m no 
genius. But I had the good fortune to know 
a genius. One day this man told me a 
“ secret.” It had to do with getting ahead 
and growing rich.' He had used it himself 
with remarkable results. He said that every 
wealthy man knew this “ secret,” — that is why 
he was rich. 

I used the “ secret.” It surely had a good 
test. At that time I was flat broke. Worse 


than that, for I was several thou- 
sand dollars in the hole. I had 
about given up hope when I put 
the “ secret ” to work. 

At first I couldn’t believe my 
sudden change in fortune. Money actually 
flowed in on me. I was thrilled with a new 
sense of power. Things I couldn’t do before 
became as easy for me to do as opening a door. 
My business boomed and continued to leap 
ahead at a rate that startled me. Prosperity 
became my partner. Since that day I’ve never 
known what it is to want for money, friend- 
ship, happiness, health or any of the good 
things of life. 

That “ secret ” surely made me rich in every 
sense of the word. 

My sudden rise to riches naturally sur- 
prised others. One by one people came to 
me and asked me how I did it. I told them. 
And it worked for them as well as it did for 
me. 

Some of the things this “ secret ” has done 
for people are astounding. I would hardly 
believe them if I hadn’t seen them with my 
own eyes. Adding ten, twenty, thirty or forty 
dollars a week to a man’s income is a mere 
nothing. That’s merely playing at it. In 
one case I took a rank failure and in a few 
weeks had him earning as high as $2,000.00 
a week. Listen to this: 

A young man in the East had an article 
for which there was a nation-wide demand. 
For twelve years he “ puttered around ” with 


In answering this advertisement it is desirable that you mention this magazine. 



ADVERTISING SECTION. 


it, barely eking out a living. To-day this 
young man is worth $200,000. He is build- 
ing a $25,000 home — and paying cash for 
it. He has three automobiles. His children 
go to private schools. He goes hunting, fish- 
ing, traveling, whenever the mood strikes 
him. His income is over a thousand dollars 
a week. 

In a little town in New York 
lives a man who two years ago 
was pitied by all who knew 
him. From the time he was 14 
he had worked and slaved — 
and at sixty he was looked 
upon as a failure. Without 
work — in debt to his charitable 
friends, with an invalid son to 
support, the outlook was pitchy 
black. 

Then he learned the “ secret.” 

In two weeks he was in business 
for himself. In three months 
his plant was working night and 
day to fill orders. During 1916 
the profits were $20,000. Dur- 
ing 1917 the profits ran close to 
$40,000. And this genial 64- 
year young man is enjoying 
pleasures and comforts he little 
dreamed would ever be his. 

I could tell you thousands of 
similar instances. But there’s 
no need to do this as I’m willing 
to tell you the “ secret ” itself. 

Then you can put it to work 
and see what it will do for you. 

I don’t claim I can make you rich over 
night. Maybe I can — maybe I can’t. Some- 
times I have failures — everyone has. But I 
do claim that I can help 90 out of every 100 
people if they will let me. 

The point of it all, my friend, is that you 
are using only about one-tenth of that wonder- 
ful brain of yours. That’s why you haven’t 
won greater success. Throw the unused nine- 
tenths of your brain into action and you’ll be 


If you held your arm in a sling for two years, it 
would become powerless to lift a feather, from lack 
of use. The same is true of the Will — it become* 
useless from lack of practice. Because we don't use 
our Wills — because we continually bow to circum- 
stance — we become unable to assert ourselves. What 
our wills need is practice. 

Develop your will-power and money will flow in 
on you. Rich opportunities will open up lor you. 
Driving energy you never dreamed you had will 
manifest itself. You will thrill with 
a new power — a power that nothing 
can resist. You'll have an influence 
over people that you never thought 
possible. Success — in whatever form 
you want it— will come as easy as 
failure came before. And those are 
only a few of the things the “secret” 
will do for you. The “ secret ” is fully 
explained in the wonderful book, 
“Power of Will.” 

How You Can Prove This at 
My Expense 

I know you’ll think that I’ve 
claimed a lot. Perhaps you think 
there must be a catch somewhere. 
But here is my offer. You can 
easily make thousands — you can’t 
lose a penny. 

Send no money — no, not a cent. 
Merely clip the coupon and mail it 
to me. By return mail you’ll re- 
ceive not a pamphlet, but the whole 
“secret'’ told in this wonderful book 
“POWER OF WILL." 

Keep it five days. Look it over in 
your home. Apply some of its simple 
teachings. If it doesn't show you 
how you can increase your income 
many times over — just as it has for 
thousands of others — mail the book 
back. You will be out nothing. 

But if you do feel that “ POWER 
OF WILL ” will do for you what it 
has done for over a quarter of a million others — if 
you feel as they do that it’s the next greatest book to 
the Bible — send me only $3.50 and you and I’ll be 
square. 

If you pass this offer by, I'll be out only the small 
profit on a three-and-a-half-dollar sale. But you — you 
may easily be out the difference between what you're 
making now and an income several times as great. So 
you see you’ve a lot — a whole lot — more to lose 
than I. 

Mail the coupon or write a letter now — you may 
never read this offer again. 


A Few Examples 

PERSONAL EXPERIENCES 

Among over 350,000 users of 
“Power of Will” are such men 
as Judge lien B. Lindsey; Su- 
preme Court Justice Parker; Wu 
Ting Fang, Ex U. S. Chinese 
Ambassador; Assistant Postmas- 
ter General Britt; Gov. McKel- 
vie of Nebraska; General Man- 
ager Christeson of Wells-Fargo 
Express Co. ; E. St. Elmo Lewis, 
former Yice-Pres. Art Metal 
Construction Co. ; Gov. Ferris 
of Michigan, and many -others of 
equal prominence. 

$300 PROFIT FROM ONE 
DAY’S READING 

“The result from one day’s 
study netted me $300 cash. I 
think it a great book and would 
not be without it for ten times 
the cost.” — A. W. Wilke, Faulk - 
ton. So. Dakota. 

WORTH $15,000 AND MORE 

“The book has been worth 
more than $15,000 to me.” — 
Oscar B. Sheppard, 1417 E. Lo- 
cust St., Decatur, 111. 

WOULD BE WORTH $100,000 

“If I had only had it when 
I was 20 years old, I would be 
worth $100,000 to-day. It is worth 
a hundred times the price.” — 
S. W. Taylor, The Santa Fe Ry., 
Milans, Tex. 

SALARY JUMPED FROM $150 
TO $800 

“Since I read ‘Power of Will' 
my salary has jumped from $150 
to $800 a month.” — -J. F. Gibson, 
San Diego, Cal. 

FROM $100 TO $3,000 A MONTH 

“One of our boys who read 
‘Power of Will* before lie came over 
here jumped from $100 a month to 
$3,000 the first month, and won 
a $250 prize for the best sales- 
manship in the state.” — Private 
Leslie A. Still, A. E. F., Franco. 


amazed at the almost instantaneous results. 

The Will is the motive power of the brain. With- 
out a highly trained, inflexible will, a man has about 
as much chance of attaining success in life as a rail- 
way engine has of crossing the continent without 
steam. The biggest ideas have no value without will- 
power to “ put them over.” Yet the will, altho here- 
tofore entirely neglected, can be trained into wonder- 
ful power like the brain or memory and by the very 
same method — intelligent exercise and use. 


PELTON PUBLISHING COMPANY 

54 A Wilcox Block, MERIDEN. CONN. 

PELTON PUBLISHING COMPANY 

54 A Wilcox Block, Meriden, Conn. 

You may send me “Power of Will" afc your risk. I 
agree to remit $3.50 or remail the book to you in five day*. 

Name 

Address 


In answering this advertisement it is desirable that you mention this magazine. 


ADVERTISING SECTION. 



An Amazing Offer! 

$20 for a Real $30 Tailored-to-Measure Suit is an 
example of the savings you make in buying your clothes 
on our economical plan. You don’t have to pay a 
prohibitive price for your suit. No matter what style 
or what grade you select — $20, $25, $35 and up — we 
can show you how to save at least $10 — never less, 
often more. It is true that the wool shortage, high 
labor costs, the heavy demand and limited supply have 
made clothing prices higher than ever before. But 
our direct plan brings your suit to you at practically 
wholesale cost. We have no agents, no salesmen, no 
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ALL-STORY WEEKLY 


VOL. CVI 




NUMBER 3 

y p— mb 



Ovaries B. Stilson 


Author ol “A Man Named Jones,” 14 Polaris of the Snows," “ Minos of Sardanes,” ete. 


CHAPTER I. 

THE TURNING OF THE STONE. 

“ ¥T is a big stone, this, old chap. I’ll 
I bet me a ten-dollar bill there’s not a 
man in this town can budge it where 
it lies— not even Joe Simms the blacksmith, 
husky as he is.” 

Jim Ellis, one of the perennial loafers'on 
the green before the Culver House, struck 
with his palm on the rough gray back of 
the object under discussion to lend emphasis 
to his challenge in behalf of its immobility, 

“ No sir; not a man in Kingston can stir 
it. It’s a two-man job, that — and a four- 
man job to turn it over. Here’s ten dollars 
that says so.” 

“ ’T’s a bet?” 

“Huh!” 

Ellis turned where he sat on the grass, 
the better to stare at the speaker who had 
taken the challenge. This last was a small, 
dark, sharp-countenanced fellow, who had 
lain on his stomach, chin on crossed arms, 
while the other half-dozen had gossiped. 
His half-closed eyes had been following 
dreamily the traceries of the Catskill sum- 
mits against the sky, two score of miles 
away. Now he rolled over and sat up to 
1 A-S 321 


regard the group with an expression partly 
humorous, partly contemptuous, playing 
about his thin-lipped mouth. 

“ I’ll take that bet,” he said. 

“ Layin’ it on yourself?” parleyed Ellis 
with an impatient chuckle. A laugh from 
the others followed. The man, Malvin 
Britten, smoothed a crackling new bill 
across his knee. He was a scant five-feet- 
zero, and his small limbs and flat torso de- 
noted nothing herculean. 

“ I’ll take thft bet,” he continued. He 
laid the money carefully on the top of the 
boulder and weighted it with a pebble. 
“ You said any man in town. Does it go?” 
“ Sure does,” replied Ellis, producing a 
five, a two and three ones to lay with Brit- 
ten’s stake. “ Who’s your grizzly bear?” 
But his voice was not so confident as it 
had been. This Britten — the man from 
over there,” somewhere across the slowly- 
flowing Hudson — in his few weeks stay at 
the Culver House had made for himself a 
formidable name as a taker of chances. He 
seldom backed a losing proposition, be the 
argument cards, dice, or a mere difference 
of opinion. 

Ellis was momentarily uneasy. Ten-spots 
were not plentiful with him, To his cost. 


322 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


he had proven that Britten was an ill man 
to gamble against. Who was he, anyway, 
this small, quiet-spoken stranger? What 
was his business, beside the laying and win- 
ning of saloon wagers? Why was he in 
Kingston? These questions, asked often, 
passed again through Ellis’s mind as he 
studied his antagonist with narrowed eyes. 

Britten’s face told nothing. It was the 
mask of the born gambler — immobile, in- 
scrutable, withholding all hint of what 
might be passing in the alert brain behind 
it; hiding even the age of its wearer. 

Britten might have been twenty-eight; 
he might have been forty, or anywhere be- 
tween. The smooth cheeks and unlined 
forehead did not betray him. Had the thin 
lips spoken truly, they would have told that 
he was forty-three. A bad man to lay a 
wager against. Young Jim hesitated, al- 
most of a mind to pick up his money. 

A glance at the stone was reassuring. 
Pshaw! it was a candy bet. Ellis guessed 
that not even Sandow could have stirred the 
boulder unaided. 

Gray, mossy, pitted and irregular in 
shape — a fragment of limestone as old as 
its cousin hills up yonder — it was half as 
long as a man, a ponderous, inert mass, 
sunken deeply in the earth, with the grass 
springing up around it. Its weight was to 
be counted in hundreds — perhaps half a 
ton. This Britten was crazy! No one man 
could stir the stone. 

“ Who’s your strong man?” Ellis asked 
again, his confidence renewed. 

“ Cornin’ along there with the kids,” 
Britten replied; “ and his arms full of dai- 
sies. He’s the lad.” 

“Bull Michael!” 

Ellis’s exclamation was mixed with jeer- 
ing and relief. His bet was safe. For once 
Britten would be a loser. 

“Bull Michael!” chorused the other 
idlers, who had been lazily interested in 
the wager, after the manner of their kind, 
and who now saw prospects of entertain- 
ment fading. 

“ Why, that boob, that nutty idiot! ” 
said one; he hasn’t got the brains to lift 
his spoon straight to his face, let alone 
move a rock like that! He’s only a kid, 
too — a poor, batty idiot. Any ten-year-old 


little Bill of the lot of ’em can hammer 
him and get away with it.” 

“ Yes; but it doesn’t take brains to move 
a stone,” interposed Britten. “ It takes 
arms and legs and a back— and most of 
all, not knowin’ that you can’t. My ten 
is on the boob. But I must go talk to 
him first. Hands off, you, till I’ve made 
my powwow.” 

Britten arose and went to meet the group 
of children straggling down the street from 
school. 

Among the little ones, taller from his 
breast up than the tallest of them, shambled 
Bull Michael, a great, gangling oaf of a 
lad, loosely framed and slouching. Big as 
he was — and he could look down on the 
man who went to meet him — the boy was 
clothed in a blouse and knickers of coarse 
blue stuff, such as workmen’s overalls are 
made of. His legs and feet were bare and 
brown and scarred with scratches and stone- 
bruises. A confused mass of hair, soft and 
dull-black, was flung back from his fore- 
head. At his crown rode an absurd cap, 
a black velvet tam-o’-shanter, rescued per- 
haps, from an ash-barrel, the discarded last 
year’s fancy of some jaunty miss, and con- 
sidered fit enough for him who was known 
as the town idiot. 

The blue blouse was far too short of 
sleeve for its wearer, and there was a wide 
gap between its gathers and the waistband 
of the meager trousers below. Bull Michael 
was guiltless of undershirt. In the interval 
showed his naked skin, brown and healthy, 
and withall of a cleanliness that led one 
to guess that he and the creek that flowed 
back of Higginsville were old friends and 
recent comrades. 

One of the draw-strings of the frayed 
blouse swung dangling. The other was 
drawn taut, its end fast-clutched in the 
hand of a little, brown-haired miss whose 
years were half past five. She trudged 
proudly at the side of her strange hench- 
man, yanking now and then at his tether 
to remind him of his servitude. 

“ Pretty flowers. They’re all mine — all 
for me — ain’t they, Michael?” 

The lad’s arms were filled with nodding, 
long-stemmed daisies, white and yellow. 

“ Yes, Lizzie Smith; all for you.” 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


32S 


Then Britten stepped into the path and 
stopped him. 

The little man’s hard black eyes, full of 
a rat’s sharply-learned wisdom, looked into 
those of the lad, big blue eyes, dark blue, 
deep and vacant of all wisdom— for the face 
of Bull Michael, despite his eighteen years, 
was the face of an undeveloped child. 

Britten’s features softened into a pecu- 
liarly winning smile, of which one would 
not have thought them capable. 

•“ Give Lizzie her posies, Michael, to take 
to her mother, and listen to me,” he said. 
“ I have a story to tell you, a true story— 
about the fairies.” 

“ Fairies?” Michael’s empty eyes lighted 
under their heavy brows. An expression of 
pathetic eagerness overspread his vacant 
face. 

“ Oh, the fairies! Yes; tell me; I’ll listen. 
Here, Lizzie Smith — all for you — to take to 
your mother.” He shifted the burden of 
flowers to the upstretched arms of the little 
maid, and stood looking into Britten’s face 
with strained attentiveness. 

“ Yes; the fairies?” he repeated eagerly. 

“ You see that stone over there?” Brit- 
ten pointed to the boulder. 

Michael nodded. 

“ Well, it’s kinda like this about the 
fairies,” the man went on. “ The king of 
’em all— a queer little old boy with long 
white whiskers and a crown of eighteen- 
karat gold, all set with shiners — diamonds 
and pearls — a fine piece of work, Michael — 
this old chap has been looking around for 
a place to build him a summer palace, some- 
thing sort of extra fine, so to say, where he 
and the queen and the rest of the fairies 
can hold their little masquerade balls by 
moonlight. Think of that, Michael! All 
of ’em dancing by the light of the moon, 
,with no one there to see ’em; and the 
crickets playing the violins for ’em to dance 
by, and the creek-frogs cornin’ in strong on 
the chorus.” 

Under the spell of that imagery Michael’s 
face became wrapt. 

“Yes, the old fairy king has been look- 
ing for the right spot for that summer gar- 
den, and where do you think was the only 
place that would suit his nibs? You’d never 
guess it; but he’ll be satisfied only with the 


one particular little piece of ground that a 
fellow’d find if he was to turn that old stone 
there over on its back. You see, that’s the 
one spot hereabouts that the fairies are right 
sure no man has ever set a foot on. That’s, 
because the stone has always been there. 

“ These fairies are Very particular little 
gazabos, especially when it comes to picking 
a place to build a summer palace on. They 
wouldn’t want to put it where any human 
person ever had walked or sat.” 

“Hey!” called Ellis from the Culver 
House yard. “ You goin’ to be all day? 
You goin’ to win that bet, or shall I pick 
up? Us fellows are getting some dry.” 

“ Shut that trap!” snapped back Britten, 
waving an impatient hand and never losing 
the mastery of Michael’s eyes. “ I’m just 
telling Michael a secret. We’ll be there in 
a minute. 

“ Now, Michael,” he resumed to the boy, 
“ here’s just what’s the matter: The fairy 
king — his name’s old Paramaraboo — he sent 
word to me last night, for I’m an old friend 
of his, that he was in trouble and needed 
help. For the fairies can’t move that stone 
to get at their building site that old Para- 
maraboo has set his heart on. Strong as 
they are — and you know how strong the 
fairies are, Michael — that old stone stumps 
the whole lot of them. Old King Para- 
maraboo’s messenger— he’s a little green 
chap with wide ears and a long, thin nose 
like a darning-needle — came to tell me that 
they are sure you can help ’em out. 

“ They wanted me to tell you all about 
it and ask you to do your best. The stone’s 
an enchanted stone, Michael. The only 
chap that can ever move it has got to be 
an enchanted prince. And you — do you 
see, Michael?” 

“I? Me!” Michael’s lower jaw sagged, 
and his eyes rolled in their sockets with the 
awesome delight of that idea. 

“ You got me right, Michael! ” cried Brit- 
ten. “ Right the first time!” He clapped 
the boy on the shoulder. “ You’re the fel- 
low old Paramaraboo’s been looking for. I 
didn’t believe it at first; but I see it now. 
You’re an enchanted prince fellow, Michael, 
and you will move the stone for the fairies, 
won’t you, Michael?” 

Michael nodded his head slowly. The 


324 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


wonder of this thing had quite overpowered 
speech for the moment. His eyes swam 
mistily-. Prince Michael! 

“ You’ll do your best for the fairies, now, 
won’t you, Michael?” Britten asked anx- 
iously 

“ Yes; oh yes! I will move the stone,” 
said Michael. 

“ Good boy! I thought you’d want to 
help the fairies,” said Britten. “ It may 
not be easy; but remember that you’re the 
enchanted prince they’ve been looking for, 
and how fine that summer dance palace is 
going to look with ’em all dancing in it by 
the light of the moon — only we won’t see 
it. No one can ever see these fairy cas- 
tles; but they’re there just the same. Come 
on.” 

They entered the Culver House yard, the 
little man and the big child, and went to the 
sunken stone. 

“Bull Michael, hell!” sneered Ellis. 
“ You can’t move this stone in a thousand 
years, no matter what line of bull-con this 
fellow Britten’s been feeding to you — and 
I’ll say that he shoves a lot of it. Well, 
fellows, here’s where we all get a drink out 
of this bird’s ten-dollar william.” 

But Bull paid not the slightest attention 
to the scoffing of Ellis. It is to be doubted 
that he so much as heard it. He was un- 
der the spell of the Little Folk, strongly 
woven by his new preceptor. He bent and 
laid a hand on the old gray stone. 

Someone removed the bills from the 
boulder. 

“ Ready now, Michael— and don’t for- 
get,” cautioned Britten as Bull Michael 
bent his broad back and groped for hand- 
holds on the lower sides of the rock where 
the grass grew thick. 

A gang of swarthy-skinned laborers from 
the cement quarries came down the street 
just then. They saw the group in the yard 
of the Culver House, and they stopped to 
stare curiously. Their foreman stood at the 
gate and called: 

“ Hey, boss! You wanta that rock mov- 
ed? We do him fora you. How mucha?” 
He gave an order in his own tongue, telling 
of the number of men he thought necessary 
for the task. Five of his laborers started 
to troop through the gateway. 


“ Go back, you fellows,” commanded 
Britten. “ This boy will do it all by his 
lonely. He hasn’t started to pull yet.” 

The foreman smiled with a flash of white 
teeth and shook his head. 

“ No, signore,” he said with conviction. 
“ No boy mova that rock veree queeck. 
No.” 

“ You got the right dope,” rejoined Ellis 
triumphantly. “ He can tug till he turns 
from red to blue, and he won’t stir that 
tombstone.” 

Michael was red indeed. His legs set 
wide apart, his back bowed, both hands 
clutched under the sides of the stone, where 
he had found firm holds at last, he tugged 
desperately. But the effort was too much 
for his loosely-joined frame. His shoulders 
heaved. The sinews of his back cracked. 
So did the seams of his trousers. Tears of 
vexation started to his eyes. The ground 
seemed to sway around him. A myriad 
silver flecks swam in the air about his head. 
The stone did not stir. One of his hands 
slipped from its hold, and the jagged sur- 
faces of the limestone tore the flesh of his 
palm so that the blood started. He stood 
up, panting and dizzy. 

“ Told you so,” chirruped Ellis. “ That 
boob’ll never move it. Betcha another ten 
that two of the ginnies out there can’t do 
it. Pick any two you like.” Ellis had 
seen the foreman send five men to the job. 

“ You don’t know Michael, you fellows,” 
said Britten with a confident laugh, al- 
though his face was worried. “ You don’t 
know him at all. Sure he’ll mpve it a- 
whoopin’ next time he takes hold. He was 
only trying her out before. That’s right, 
Michael; take a good hold this time!” For 
Bull Michael had bent to his task again. 

Once more the lad set his hands to their 
holds. Once more his back strained to the 
effort and his breath came in gasps. 

Britten bent over and whispered in his 
ear. 

“ .Good boy, Prince Michael ! You’ve got 
her this time. Pull! Pull hard! — for the 
fairies — pull!” 

And Michael, hearing that magic title, 
did pull. No longer vacant of face and 
loose-knit of frame seemed the lad. His 
expression became earnest, and even intel- 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


ligent, and his muscles gathered into a uni- 
fied and sustained effort. His face, neck 
and arms were flooded with perspiration. 
Something roared in his ears, and his back 
began to yield. Was his hold slipping once 
more? 

“ By God!” almost shrieked Ellis, “ he’s 
done it — that boob!” 

Michael stood up. His bleeding hands 
groped in front of him. For an instant all 
the summer sunshine turned to blackness. 
What had happened to him? 

“ Prince Michael ! ” a voice whispered in 
his ,ear as the light began to filter back into 
his eyes, “ you have done it. To-night the 
fairies yvill dance to the light of the moon 
and thank you.” 

With restored vision, Michael looked 
down at his work. He stood at the edge 
of a yawning, unlovely hole; for the lime- 
stone had been bedded deeper than even 
Britten had guessed. The boulder lay on 
its side, uprooted, the damp, dark mould 
clinging to its lower surface. There was a 
smell of fresh-stirred earth in the air. 

“ My twenty,” said Britten quietly, col- 
lecting his bet; and to himself: 

“ God ! to have such a body — with the 
brain to make it work.” He looked con- 
temptuously at his own slender wrists and 
puny fingers. 

“ Good boy, Michael! Come on, boys, 
let’s get a drink.” 

Through the warm sunshine of the sum- 
mer afternoon, Bull Michael went down the 
street in the direction of the Poor House, 
where was his home. Despite the warmth, 
he felt chilled, and at times the trees he 
passed seemed to him to be trying to dance 
an ungainly waltz. His hands were bleed- 
ing, and his back hurt cruelly. But Prince 
Michael the Enchanted had done a good 
turn to King Paramaraboo, and was con- 
tent. Behind him the swarthy workmen 
stared after him and jabbered excitedly in 
their mother tongue. 

At the door of the Culver House bar- 
room Britten paused for a moment to watch 
the plodding lad. 

Whatever it was that the little man had 
wished to learn of Michael — and fie had 
been observing the boy for some time — he 
had made his test, and he too was content. 


325 

Again he nodded sagely, then went in to get 
his drink. 


CHAPTER II. 

THE BROKEN BARS. 

A T the rear of the Culver House was a 
l raised porch which served the double 
purpose of a daytime lounging place 
and an evening dance pavilion. Late in 
the forenoon of the day following the turn- 
ing of the stone, a dozen and a half of' the 
hotel habitues were gathered on the porch, 
most of them sitting around “ double- 
decker ” tables. 

Games of pinocle were in progress at 
two of the tables. At a third the dice 
clicked dryly, where old Colonel Baxter, 
with a diminishing roll of big bills, but a 
confidence as ineradicable as the tobacco 
stains on his white moustache, was back- 
ing against all comers his unerring (in) abil- 
ity to throw full-houses. 

Invariably, when the colonel changed one 
of his yellow-backs to pay a loss, his op- 
ponents gave him in exchance all of the 
small bills, preferably one-spots, that they 
could muster. These he crumpled and 
stuffed carelessly into the side pocket of his 
black broadcloth. If a bystander asked 
him how his game was prospering, the colo- 
nel would thrust a hand into that pocket. 
Feeling a comfortable accretion of currency, 
he would smile expansively and answer, 
“Big winner, b’gosh!” Later on it was 
always a mystery to the colonel where his 
“ big winnings ” had vanished. 

It is sad to relate; but poor, genial old 
Colonel Baxter was about the only visible 
means of support of a number of the Culver 
House loafers. Colonel didn’t mind. Peri- 
odically, when the stocks which he owned 
returned their dividend checks, he had 
plenty of the stuff, and he liked to spend 
it in his own peculiar way. Once in a 
while a streak of full-houses did get into 
the colonel’s dice, and he chucked them 
like a fiend. Then his hangers-on melted 
away, to come back when his luck had 
changed; or, if they did stay, were sure 
to rue it in a short period of cheerless and 
beerless existence. 


326 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


This day the colonel had a new joke. 

“ Noticed my front yard?” he asked. 

“ Why, yes, colonel,” one of his cronies 
replied. “ Had it all fixed up, haven’t 
you?” 

“ Wife did that. Had a landscape gar- 
dener lay it out. Noticed that front walk, 
though, that weaves in and out and around 
the flower beds? Wife hadn’t made up her 
mind how she wanted that walk. Then I 
went home late one night. It had been 
raining, and the ground was soft. Next 
day wife told the landscape gardener to fol- 
low my tracks. That’s how we got the ser- 
pentine. Suits both of us, b’gosh!” 

At a fourth table Britten- sat behind an 
imposing rampart of poker chips. Across 
from him Ellis was losing steadily and nois- 
ily, as was his wont. 

Sudden clamor, proceeding from the front 
of the hotel drew the attention of the game- 
sters. 

“ Fight! Fight! someone yelled. Cards 
fell and the bones clicked into silence. 

“ It’s that fool Bull Michael again,” 
drawled Billy Sellers, the bartender, appear- 
ing at the back door of the barroom, wip- 
ing his hands on his apron. “ Britten, your 
pal is in a bad way,” he continued with a 
grin. “ Simms, the blacksmith, is giving 
him a tidy beating up. Whatcha know 
about the boob’s nerve — to tackle Joe! ” 

Chairs scraped on the board floor as 
the counter-attraction emptied the gaming 
tables. Britten hurried through the bar- 
room ahead of the others. Jim Ellis was 
the last man on the porch, and he delayed 
only long enough to upset the poker table. 
Scattered chips were still rolling across the 
floor when he hastened away. 

Britten emerged from the front of the 
hotel and ran across the grass to the corner 
of the yard where a crowd was forming. 

Beside the overturned stone stood Bull 
Michael. His face was bleading and tear- 
stained, and he was breathing in heavy 
sobs. His blouse had been torn by no 
friendly hand, leaving a shoulder bare. One 
eye was swollen, and the cheek below was 
discolored. In front of him, Simms the 
smith, a stocky, thick-necked fellow' of for- 
bidding and truculent aspect, regarded the 
work of his fists with surly satisfaction. 


As Britten pushed to the center of the 
Crowd, the blacksmith struck the boy again, 
a brutal blow in the face. Britten saw' 
with inner exultation that Michael, though 
he made no move to fend himself, did not 
flinch from the fist-stroke. 

“ What’s the trouble here?” asked the 
little man, laying a hand on Michael’s bare 
shoulder and looking Simms over with un- 
veiled disapproval. 

“ Why, if it’s anything to you, this boob 
got fresh with me, and I’m givin’ him a 
lesson,” replied Simms. “ And I ain’t done 
yet,” he continued threateningly, angered 
afresh by the tacit sympathy in that hand 
on Michael’s shoulder. 

“ But what did the boy do to you?” per- 
sisted Britten. 

“ Squared off at me,” answered the smith 
with a contemptuous laugh. “ Him! Huh! 
Woulda hit me too, if he’d known how to 
land. Someone’s filled him full of gas. 
Well, I’ll let some of it out. Now beat it! ” 
he commanded Michael, and raised his fist. 

But Michael did not move. The lad’s 
face bore an expression of ox-like stubborn- 
ness, and in his eyes was the same intent 
look that had flashed there momentarily 
on the previous day w'hen he had set his 
strength to the stone. 

“Just a minute, Simms,” interposed Brit- 
ten. “ You’ve punished the boy good and 
plenty.” He spoke quietly, his eyes meet- 
ing those of the smith with a level, passion- 
less regard. Simms rumbled in his throat, 
but said nothing audible. 

“ What is it, Michael?” asked Britten. 
“ What happened?” 

The boy recognized the voice in his ear; 
but he did not turn. He pointed a finger 
at Simms. 

“ He w r as going to step on the palace and 
break it,” he accused. Only Britten un- 
derstood the allusion. The others laughed. 

“You can’t see the palace; but it is 
there — you said so,” Michael continued. 

“ Michael has guarded it since the sun 
came up. No one must step on it and 
break it. Michael won’t let them. It is 
wrong. 

“ No! Damn you!” 

Shaking off the friendly hand, Michael 
struck out wildly at Simms, who, with an 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. ' 


327 


ugly laugh, had taken a step toward the 
hole in the earth. The blacksmith dodged 
the poorly-aimed fist and crashed a blow 
to the boy’s unprotected cheek. 

“That’s right; smash him, Joe!” called 
Ellis from the crowd. “ Swat him one more 
for me — ten dollars’ worth!” 

Simms’ fist was raised. 

“ Prince Michael!” 

In the ear of poor, witless Michael a voice 
whispered the magic words. 

“ Don’t hit him, Michael. Lift him — as 
you lifted the stone, Michael — and throw 
him!” 

Bull Michael heard, comprehended, and 
floundered forward. The threatened blow 
fell cruelly, and another; but he did not 
stop. His big, brown hands groped for his 
enemy, and found him. One of them closed 
on Simms’ left arm between elbow and 
shoulder; the other caught him by the belt. 

Bruiser and wrestler, the smith was noth- 
ing loath to come to grips. Once the two of 
them were on the ground, he knew a hun- 
dred artful holds to turn the trick and put 
the boy at his mercy. 

But that was not to be the way of it. 

“Good boy! Now lift him, Michael!” 

In his excitement, Britten’s voice rose 
dearly. 

Michael responded. The hold Simms es- 
sayed to take w T as torn away. With a heave 
of his back and a swing of his shoulders, 
Bull Michael lifted. He raised the smith 
from the ground, swung him shoulder high, 
and dashed him down. In the fall Simms’ 
shoulder struck against a corner of the old 
gray limestone. For a moment he lay sick 
and still. 

Presently he raised himself on his elbow. 

“ Blast you!” he growled, and shook his 
head at Britten; for he could not raise his 
fist. “I’ll fix you for that!” He picked 
himself up and walked away, nursing his 
benumbed arm. 

“ He! he! he!” chuckled Colonel Baxter, 
looking after the retreating form of the 
smith with an entire lack of sympathy. 
“ Few more falls like that might do Joe a 
pile of good. He’s kinda got to runnin’ this 
town lately— and made a gosh-whumpin’ 
poor job of it.” 

Patrolman Dogey Jackson came across 


the street from Kraft’s place, wiping sur- 
reptitiously at his damp moustache, which 
he had been moistening at Kraft’s back 
door. Asking a few questions as he came, 
Dogey approached Michael, fingering his 
club apprehensively. 

“ Never knew him to do like this before,” 
said Dogey, to no one in particular. “ Come 
onf Mike; you and me has got to take a 
little walk together.” 

“ What are you goin’ to do with him?” 
Britten asked. 

“ Sh-h! ” Dogey edged closer and laid a 
finger alongside his lean nose. “ Got to take 
him to the lockup,” he whispered. “ I hope 
they won’t keep him there long. Never 
knew him to do like this before, an’ I’ve 
known him sence he was a little feller — al- 
ways a-playin’ with the kids and such like. 
But Joe might complain of me if I didn’t 
take him in. Come along with me, Mike, 
that’s a good kid.” 

Bull Michael, hesitating beside the boul- 
der, might have shown signs of further re- 
bellion; but Britten fathomed the cause of 
his reluctance. 

“ ’Sail right, Michael,” he said in the 
lad’s ear. “ Go along with Dogey and do 
what he says. I’ll watch out that no one 
disturbs the fairy palace. And to-night, 
Michael — to-night I’ll come to see you. 
Don’t forget. I’ll come by the light of the 
moon, when the fairies are dancing.” 

Michael’s damaged face smiled bravely, 
and he nodded his comprehension. Then 
he suffered old Dogey to lead him away. 

That afternoon Britten strolled down 
Wall Street to the clothing emporium of 
Tibbils & Son. He made a number of pur- 
chases there that caused Johnny .Middaugh 
to wonder as he did them up, comparing 
the size of the purchaser with the sizes of 
the articles he had selected. Charley Wood’s 
shoe store was next door. Britten stopped 
there too. On his way back to the Culver 
House he dropped in at Reynolds’ hardware 
store. 

Stinging with the wrath and pain of his 
defeat, Simms lost little time in making his 
way to the office of old Judge Van Etten, 
where he registered a formal complaint and 
an application to have Bull Michael “ put 
away.” 


828 


ALL-STORY WEEKLY. 


“ He’s turned violent, Judge,” said the 
smith. “ After what he’s done to me, no 
knowin’ what he might do next. He ain’t 
safe to be at liberty. Think of the children, 
Judge. ’Sylum’s the place for him.” 

The old lawyer looked over his gold- 
bowed specs and nodded slowly. Like 
Dogey, he said: 

“ Strange, the boy has always seemed to 
be gentle. I never knew him to do any- 
thing like this before.” 

He reached into a pigeonhole, of his desk 
for a sheet of foolscap. 

“ I suppose that I’ll have to make out 
commitment papers. Let’s see. Dearie me, 
how time does slip away! Do you remem- 
ber when the lad first came here? Ten long 
years ago, it was. Poor little chap. He 
was sitting in the waiting-room down at the 
West Shore Station one morning, waiting 
patiently for someone to come back and get 
him — someone that never came. Stage peo- 
ple I guess his folks must have been — just 
left him there like that and went on. Dogey 
Jackson found him there in the morning — a 
poor, witless little fellow, all eyes. 

“ What a time Dogey had getting him 
away from that station! And how, for a 
long time he used to wander back there. 
He’d always find that same seat and sit 
down to wait. Used to say the ‘ Gold 
Lady ’ left him there, and that she would 
come back to get him. They had to almost 
club him away from the station. His ‘ Gold 
Lady ’ never came for him. He never 
found out who she was. Poor Michael!” 
Kindly old Judge Van Etten sighed. His 
pen began to scratch across the foolscap. 

Britten cut short his gaming at the Cul- 
ver House and went early to his room that 
night. No one saw him leave it. But when 
the moon was riding high, Bull Michael 
was awakened from his hard cot in the Ul- 
ster County Jail by something that came 
gently tapping at the barred window. The 
friend of the fairies had kept his promise. 

That was in the days before Mynie Tel- 
ler built the new gray-stone jail in Wall 
Street, else Britten’s task might have pre- 
sented greater difficulties. 

Some hours later when Sheriff Dick Smith 
made his rounds, Bull Michael’s cot was 
empty. Three of the bars at the window 


of the lad’s cell had been neatly sawed part 
way through, and then had been broken 
and bent outward from their sockets as 
though a powerful jimmy had wrenched 
them. That last was Bull Michael’s work. 

Far down the Hudson, the Mary Powell 
of the Romer & Tremper line carried two 
strange passengers on their way to the big 
city, a small, sharp-faced man, who spoke 
seldom, and a hulking overgrown lad in ill ■ 
fitting garments, who said nothing at all. 

CHAPTER III. 

DADDY GAIL’S JAIL. 

T HEY stood, Britten and Bull Michael, 
on the New York boat-dock. A few 
feet beyond them the pulsing life of 
the city shrilled and shrieked, fretted and 
hurried. The lad looked back. Up the 
pathway of the river yonder, whence the 
Mary Powell had brought him, lay one 
phase of his life, his past, though he could 
not comprehend it. Almost at his elbow 
his future crowded and shouted to him out 
of the many-tongued clamor of the streets. 
Vague unquiet stirred in the dim twilights 
of his consciousness. He was like a be- 
wildered child. He pressed closer to Brit- 
ten’s side. 

“ We are far away,” he said. 

“ What?” Britten asked; and then, catch- 
ing the look in the boy’s eyes, “ Don’t you 
care, Michael. We ain’t goin’ back. You’re 
just goin’ to begin to live.” They started 
toward the street. 

Passers-by stared curiously at the little 
man and his shaggy-haired companion. 
Britten felt their regard with uneasiness. 
Some distance away a policeman took note 
of the two and began to thread his way 
leisurely toward them through the traffic. 
Britten’s sharp eyes saw that too. He 
frowned. Questions just now would be 
embarrassing. A horse-cab stood by the 
curb, waiting for fares. 

“ Come on, Michael ! ” 

They jumped in and were whirled away. 
In lower Third Avenue they left the cab 
and once more proceeded on foot. There, 
where in the course of one block one might 
meet the representatives of twenty nation- 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


829 


alities, clad in all the degrees of garb, from 
tatters to full dress, no one paid any atten- 
tion to the keen-faced little man and his 
shambling comrade. 

They ate in a Hungarian bakery-restau- 
rant not far from Fifteenth Street. Some- 
one, at some time, had been at pains to 
teach Michael how to eat properly, and he 
had not forgotten. Britten took notice at 
table that the lad handled knife, fork and 
spoon as daintily as a woman. 

When they left the eating-house, night 
was settling. Street lights had flickered 
up. L-trains screeched through the upper 
shadows. Garish flares from the shop- 
windows illuminated the sidewalks. Ur- 
chins, dirty-faced and bare of leg, played 
along the gutters. Through the noisy 
crowds on the walks an occasional Chinese 
shuffled by on furtive feet. 

Michael smiled at the shouts of the chil- 
dren. Though many of them spoke in a 
foreign tongue, he understood and felt akin 
to them. Of the Chinese he was obviously 
apprehensive, and he shrank against Brit- 
ten when they passed. 

“ They won’t hurt you,” Britten reas- 
sured. An ancient memory wrinkled his 
forehead, and he continued to himself, 
“ Not if you don’t mix up in their affairs.” 

“ Wicked fairies,” was Michael’s com- 
ment. He always remained of that opin- 
ion. It was incomprehensible to Michael 
that any creature could wear its eyes on the 
bias and its shirt outside, and be otherwise 
than a mauvais sujet. 

Turning into East Nineteenth Street and 
proceeding toward Second Avenue, the trav- 
elers passed along the fronts of continuous 
rows of four-story buildings of brown stone. 
Every twenty-five feet a staircase of cast- 
iron led from the sidewalk to a closed front 
door. Only the number on the door made 
any one of those silent fronts different from 
its neighbors. 

Half-way between the two avenues and 
on the north side of the street Britten as- 
cended one of the flights of steps and thrust 
a key in the lock. The door opened into 
a gloomy hall, where a crackling gas jet 
projecting from the wall made more noise 
than it did light, and far more smell than 
either. With the exception of a frayed 


rug near the threshold, the floor was bare. 
The only furnishing was a tottering hat- 
rack leaning against the wall. To the left 
was a steep stair with battered newel-post 
and rickety balustrade. At the rear of the 
hall a door stood half open. Beyond it was 
light and the sound of voices. 

Britten led Michael up the stairs to the 
first floor, turned two or three cross-corri- 
dors in the dusk with the assurance of one 
who knew his way, and unlocked the door 
of a room at the back of the building. 

“ Come in, Michael,” he said as he ap- 
plied a match to a gas jet. “ Come on in; 
we are at home — for a while.” 

Two chairs, a dresser, a writing table and 
an iron bed furnished the room, which was 
some fourteen feet square. Three or four 
pictures hung on the wall. In a corner a 
door opened into a wardrobe closet, which 
contained also a bowl with hot and cold 
water taps. 

Britten set his suit-case in the closet. 
He opened the top drawer of the dresser, 
felt in a corner near a pile of handkerchiefs, 
and produced a twenty-dollar bill. At sight 
of that, he chuckled somewhat grimly. 

“ Still got the fear of God in their souls — 
so far as I’m concerned,” he muttered, 
stuffing the bill into his pocket. “ Not 
many hotels in this burg where a man could 
leave a twenty like that and find it waiting 
for him. 

“ You stay here till I come back,” he 
said to Michael. “ I want to find out some 
things.” 

Michael slouched obediently into one of 
the chairs and looked about him apathet- 
ically. Britten went out, turning the key 
after him. In the lower hall he pulled open 
the door to the back room. A high folding 
screen confronted him. 

“ Hey, Daddy ! Daddy Gail ! ” he called 
softly. 

“ Come in, Mai,” a voice replied in a 
sing-song falsetto. “ Come right in, son, 
you son-of-a-gun! Guess that rhymes, 
doesn’t it?” The voice broke into shrill 
laughter. 

Britten moved the screen. 

“ Come on right in; there’s nobody here 
but Clink and me — and Bill. Eh, Bill?” 

A hoarse screech followed the words, and 


330 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


a guttural voice intoned, “ Bill! Bill! Shut- 
tup! Shut-tup! Shut-tup, Bill!” 

It was a large room, wide and high-ceil- 
inged. It served its tenant at once as liv- 
ing-room, kitchen, bedroom and studio. 
There were in it a bed, chairs, table, a small 
gas-range, a kitchen cabinet, and a dresser. 
In one corner stood a small easel, with a 
camp-stool and a metal case of water-colors. 
A half-finished picture was on the easel. 
I c depicted a pretty little corner of Central 
Park near the Mall, and the execution was 
not without merit. 

Walls and ceiling had been done origi- 
nally in cream-colored paper; but that was 
long ago, and now the paper was nearly 
hidden by close-written couplets of doggerel 
verse, inscribed in chalks of many colors 
and in a hand as neat and legible as copper- 
plate. These verses began at the wainscot- 
ing on all four walls and extended with 
hardly a break clear up to the mouldings. 
They even encroached on the ceiling. There 
were literally thousands of them. 

Here and there the instinct of the poet 
had yielded to that of the artist, evidenced 
in small paintings, landscapes and street 
scenes, some of them of passing artistry. 

In the center of the ceiling was pictured 
in vivid orange a crescent moon, surrounded 
by a number of tire constellations in gold- 
paint, with the legend in green chalk: 

Daddy Gail's limit is this sky; - 
Bet ’em up, boys; it’s not very high! 

With Mr. Clink Wilson to keep him com- 
pany, the artist-poet sat at table, playing 
blind showdown. 

Gail was a wisp of a man, hardly taller 
than Britten, with a thick brush of snow- 
white hair, sunken, but astonishingly bright 
gray eyes, a big hooked nose, and an im- 
mense moustache that entirely hid his 
mouth and covered most of his sharp chin. 
He was in his shirt-sleeves — a shirt as white 
as alabaster, and of the finest linen. His 
vest and trousers were of quiet brown goods, 
elegantly cut and carefully kept. A modest 
emerald sparkled on his necktie, and its 
counterpart adorned one of his slender 
fingers. A flat-topped brown derby was 
pushed back from his forehead. Through 
his moustache thrust out an amber cigar- 


holder, with the smoldering remnant of a 
black cigar. 

From the dustless crown of his hat to the 
soles of his polished boots, he was as clean 
and trim as a tailor’s dummy. The skin of 
his face and hands was as pink and fresh as 
that of an infant. And fragile — he looked 
as though a heady gust of wind might blow 
him away. Alas for appearances! there 
wasn’t a tougher, more wiry old scoundrel 
in all New York than Daddy Gail, proprie- 
tor and presiding genius of what it pleased 
him to call “ Gail’s Jail.” 

Across the table sat his antithesis, a 
burly person of some five and thirty years, 
in a ragged sweater and stained corduroys. 
His hair vied in color with Daddy’s moon 
above him. His complexion was a mixture 
of prison pallor and rum-blossom. In the 
not far-distant past his nose had been flat- 
tened artfully by the impact of four knuc- 
kles not his own, and only the tip of it 
had recovered. 

Bill, a green parrot with a prodigious 
beak, sat on a standard perch back of 
Daddy’s chair. As Britten entered the 
room, the bird fixed on him an eye that 
blazed like molten gold, and gave utterance 
to profane thoughts in gibberish, punctu- 
ated with vicious rattlings of its leg-chain. 

Daddj*turned over his last card, expos- 
ing kings-up. He chuckled ecstatically. 

“ I’ve got — that pot — not!” the last word 
added as Mr. Wilson turned up his third 
six-spot. The old man tipped back his 
chair and tilted his hat. 

“ Well Mai — old pal ! Glad to see you 
back. And so’s Bill. Hear him, now. He 
says, ‘ Hello Mr. Britten; come here and 
get bitten.’ Aw, Bill! Shame!” For Bill 
had summed up his ill-feeling toward the 
newcomer in the terse and forceful exple- 
tive, “ Hell!” 

“ I heard you come in, Mai,” Daddy re- 
sumed. “ I knew it was you as soon as you 
set foot on the stairs. You can’t fool Daddy 
on footsteps. You brought a friend with 
you — a big chap, judging by the way he 
puts down his feet.” 

Britten nodded. “ I brought a pupil;” 
he said. He leaned on the back of a chair. 
“ Hello, Clink.” 

Mr. Wilson managed a grin and a nod. 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


331 


“ What’s the good word?” asked Daddy. 

“ Oh, so-so.” 

“ Sit in, Mai, and take a hand. Playing 
with Clink here, isn’t the most interesting 
occupation in the world. Clink not being 
in what you might call fortuitous circum- 
stances just now, I have to stake him my- 
self. I’d like to play against somebody 
else’s money for a change. Sit in, Mai, 
Daddy Gail — needs the kale.” He looked 
up at Britten hopefully. 

Mai shook his head. “ Too tired to- 
night,” he answered, “ and got something 
else on my mind. Things ain’t changed 
much around here, have they?” 

“ No.” Gail cocked his head on one side 
and regarded Britten with twinkling eyes. 

“ Say Mai, don’t you go to flatter your- 
self that that’s the same twenty-paper that 
you left upstairs; for it ain’t,” he remarked 
irrelevantly. I’ve borrowed that twenty, as 
you might say, precisely four times since 
you went away. But I put — ” 

A crash on the floor above interrupted his 
words. It was followed by the shriek of 
sundered timber. Heavy footsteps in des- 
perate haste sounded in the upper hall, 
then came the prolonged rumble and bump 
of one who poured himself down the front 
stairs without using his feet. 

“ Sacred Sarah!” ejaculated Daddy. The 
three men ran into the hall. 

“ Michael! What ails you? What’s the 
matter, boy?” Britten cried. 

Under the gas jet was crouched Bull 
Michael. His back was against the front 
door, his hands spread out at each side of 
him, as though he sought to sink the nails 
on his crooking fingers into the wood of the 
panels. His lower jaw projected, his eyes 
rolled, and his hair literally bristled. 

“ What’s the matter?” repeated Britten. 
He laid a hand on the lad’s shoulder. 
“ Come.” 

But Michael was in the grip of a terror 
that was all too powerful to be conveyed 
by his limited means of expression. He 
stared up the stairway. He raised a hand 
and pointed. The hand quivered. At 
length he found words. 

“A bad fairy! — up there!” he gasped. 
“ Hatchet — all "blood ! ” The trembling fit 
left him. He looked stupidly at the others. 


“ Umph ! ” grunted Gail. “ He must have 
found the Chink under the bed.” He eyed 
the boy sharply. “ He’s gone clean daffy 
about it.” Daddy looked at Mr. Wilson, 
who returned the scrutiny with interest. 
Britten whirled around and regarded both 
of them. 

“ What’s the idea?” he asked. 

Daddy nodded his white head wisely. 
“ H-m-m, ah-hum-m,” he droned. “ Yes, 
Clink — he killed a chink. Guess that 
rhymes, doesn’t it? We’d better go up.” 
He led the way up the stairs. The others 
followed, Bull Michael clinging to Britten’s 
coat-tail. 

All was dark and still on the first floor. 
From the head of the next flight of stairs 
came a murmur of voices. A feminine voice 
shrilled down, “ Fer the luvva Gawd, 
Daddy, what’s cornin’ off?” 

“ It’s all right, Maggie. Go to bed up 
there. New boarder had a bit — of a St- 
and now he’s quit,” replied Daddy gayly. 
“ Luckily most of them are out at this time 
o’ night,” he muttered. 

The lower panel and cross-cleats had 
been knocked out of the door to Britten’s 
room as though a battering ram had struck 
them. Daddy surveyed the ruins and whis- 
tled. He looked at Michael. “ Strong lad 
— that tad,” he remarked. He unlocked the 
wrecked frame with his master-key, and the 
four entered the room. Gail took a blanket 
from the bed and hung it across the hole 
in the door. 

“ Now, let’s have him out,” he said to 
Clink; “ and you,” turning to Michael, 
“ you keep your holler — in your collar.” 

Mr. Wilson knelt on the floor, not with- 
out grunting, and peered under the bed. 
He thrust in an arm and pulled. Something 
heavy stirred across the matting. Mr. Wil- 
son tugging steadily. A pale, clenched 
hand and rigid arm appeared from under 
the side of the bed. Michael recoiled 
against the door, stirring in helpless fasci- 
nation. Britten frowned down at the grue- 
some apparition, which, under Clink’s urg- 
ing, crept inch by inch into the light. 
Daddy hummed gently to himself. 

Clink stood up and wiped his hand on 
the leg of his corduroys. “ That’s him,” he 
said. 


332 


ALL- STORY WEEKLY. 


The body was that of a squat, heavily 
built Chinese. One fat hand, its fingers 
yellowed with cigarette smoke, was clutched 
at the bosom of his loose velveteen blouse. 
The other arm extended stiffly at right an- 
gles to the body. A soft black hat had 
been jammed down over the head so that 
it hid most of the face. Across the stomach 
lay a hatchet, the brightness of its keen 
blade dulled by dried blood. 

Britten bent and twitched away the hat. 
A gaping hatchet-cleft above the left tem- 
ple explained the manner of the man’s 
death. Despite the dark disfigurement of 
coagulated blood which adhered to the wide 
face, Britten recognized it. 

‘‘By God! it’s Charley Ong!” he said. 
He sat down on the edge of the bed and 
looked at Gail. “ When did this happen?” 
he asked. 

“ Night before last.” Daddy stooped 
and peered at the terrible head. “ Gad; the 
rats have been at it,” he said disgustedly. 
“ The lad must have heard them, and that’s 
what made him look. Clink should have 
put it in the river last night; but he didn’t 
get an opportunity. Do it to-night, Clink 
— throw the Chink — in the drink. Now 
that’s a good rhyme, ain’t it? Mai, I’ll put 
you and your friend in another room for 
the night. I must get that door fixed, too.” 

“ How did he come here?” inquired Brit- 
ten, pointing at the body, which Mr. Wilson 
was proceeding to shove under the bed 
again. 

“ He’s haunted the place ever since you 
went away,” Daddy replied. “ He meant 
to get even with you, I suppose, for work- 
ing his place the way you did, and break- 
ing his bank. I told him you were"away; 
but he didn’t believe it. Three times I 
caught him sneaking around in the place, 
and 1 warned him; and three warnings are 
all that any man has a right to expect. 

“ Night before last he came again — over 
the roofs from Third Avenue. But Clink 
here has been sleeping on the roof lately; 
and Clink, when he hasn’t had too much 
red-eye, is a tolerable light sleeper. He 
heard this Chink-chap, and got up and fol- 
lowed him through the scuttle. He trailed 
him to the door of your room, and then he 
killed him, nice and quiet, using the Chink’s 


own hatchet. We put him in here; for 
there didn’t seem to be any better place. 
That’s all. Come, get your duds, you two, 
and I’ll put you away for the night. Clink 
will do the rest.” 

In the middle of the night Britten awoke 
and felt the bed shaking. Michael was 
weeping. 

“Poor devil,” thought Mai; “this isn’t 
a very good start for him — scaring him half 
to death the first night out.” 

But in thinking that Michael wept for 
fear, Mai deceived himself. The little man 
had still to learn that one of the many 
strange phases of Michael’s character was, 
that he rarely -was swayed by any terror 
for more than a very short time; and he 
never feared the same thing twice. Michael 
had met his first dead man. It had fright- 
ened him; doubly so because it happened 
to be a dead Chinese. Henceforth Michael 
would always view Chinese with suspicion; 
and he never would cultivate any great lik- 
ing for dead men; but of neither would he 
ever again be afraid. 

No; Michael was not weeping for fear. 
He had awakened to the terrible thought 
that he had not seen his playmates for a 
whole day — probably never would see them 
again. It was good-by Louis, and good-by 
John, and — good-by, Lizzie Smith. 

That was why Michael wept. 

CHAPTER IV. 

SCHOOL DAYS. 

E ARLY one bright July morning Mr. 
Clink Wilson, asleep and snoring 
sonorously on a mattress in his tent 
on the roof of Gail’s Jail felt an impulse 
move him to be up and doing. Such im- 
pulses were rare with Mr. Wilson, and by 
no means to be heeded. He wriggled slug- 
gishly, murmured, “ What t’ell?” and rolled 
over on the other ear. The impulse stirred 
again, this time in the vicinity of his float- 
ing ribs. Exasperated, Cling laid violent 
hands on it. 

“ Hey! leggo my foot, you loon!” piped 
Daddy Gail, “ I just paid ten cents for a 
shine!” 

“ Quit yer ticklin’ then.” The red-headed 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


one swung his heels around off the mattress 
and sat up, rubbing his eyes sulkily. He 
reached under the edge of the mattress and 
produced a half-pint flask, which he held 
up to the light. It was stopperless and 
empty. 

“ Ain’t that hell?” he complained. “ Cork 
musta come out over night.” 

“ I’ll bet it did— three or four times,” 
said Daddy unsympathetically. “ Tell you, 
Clink— when you drink — how you do stink! 
Huh! guess that rhymes, doesn’t it? Seeing 
you’ve had your breakfast, come along out 
of that. Mai’s got a job for you.” 

Thus adjured, Clink arose leisurely and 
made his toilet. It consisted in stretching 
prodigiously and pulling on his cap. Clink 
was a disciple of efficiency, in that he prac- 
tised religiously the economy of motion. To 
avoid the needless detail of putting on his 
clothes when he got up, he simply left them 
on when he went to bed. With a last yawn 
and click of his teeth, he sauntered blinking 
into the sunlight. 

Like its neighbors for a considerable dis- 
tance on both sides, the roof of Daddy’s 
rooming house was walled in by a breast- 
high coping of brick and floored with sheet- 
iron, over which was laid a sheathing of tar 
and gravel. The day in question being 
Monday, sundry garments of various hues 
and divers unmentionable patterns were 
fluttering from the lines along the row of 
roofs. 

Daddy’s roof differed from the rest in 
two respects: he allowed no clothes-lines, 
and he cultivated a garden. Next to the 
front coping he had curbed with bricks a 
space some twenty-five feet long by five 
wide, and filled it in with earth, which he 
had been at great pains to fetch up from 
below, a scuttle-full at a time. At one end 
of this little plot a half-dozen sturdy sun- 
flower plants were nodding. 

Around their roots pansies turned their 
bright faces to the sky. Mignonettes grew 
in a border along the curbing. Sweet peas 
and climbing nasturtiums clung to a trellis 
of sticks and strings nearby. Daddy had 
not forgotten his table when he planted. 
Most of the remaining space was occupied 
by tomato plants; and the fact that he had 
made them thrive there, spoke volumes for 


333 

his skill as a gardener. Last of all were 
two prim rows of onion sprouts. 

Assured that Clink was on his feet and 
wide awake, Daddy picked up a big water- 
ing pot and stepped briskly off to water 
his plants. As he worked he puffed con- 
tentedly at his ever-present black cigar and 
hummed in his throat the notes of a song 
that had been popular many years before. 

Every one that knew her loved the gentle 
power — 

A narrow chimney thrust up in the center 
of the roof. At one side of it was the scut- 
tle with its trap door of iron. At the other 
side, in the shade of the chimney, Britten 
and Bull Michael sat on a wooden bench. 
Clink approached them. 

“ ’Lo, Mai.” 

“ ’Lo, Clink.” 

“ Daddy says you’ve got a lay fer me.” 
“ Ye-uh; sit down.” Britten made room 
at the end of the bench. 

Time had been, in his early twenties, 
when Clink was a promising heavy-weight 
fighter. He had even cherished aspirations 
for the championship. But he had entered 
the semi-finals against the redoubtable John 
Barleycorn and had been badly worsted. In 
spite of that and the flight of the years, 
Clink could not quite bring himself to be- 
lieve in the truth of the dictum, “ They 
never come back.” He still had hopes that 
“ sometime ” he would shine again in fis- 
tiana. “ Some day ” he would “ cut th’ 
booze an’ start trainin’.” 

This pleasant fiction led him to call the 
big square tent on the roof his “ gym- 
nasium,” so named by virtue of a set of 
faded green boxing gloves which hung from 
its rail and a punching-bag frame which 
stood in a corner. These portions of the 
history of Clink were well known to Britten. 

“ You used to be a pretty good scrapper. 
Clink,” said Mai, as Clink settled on the 
bench with an audible sigh; “ got anything 
left?” 

Brought face to face with the bald ques- 
tion, Clink did not answer at once. He 
rolled the sleeve of his sweater slowly back 
from his right arm. The member thus ex- 
posed was undeniably flaccid under its 
freckled skin. Clink considered it. He 


334 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


dosed his hand, watching the flexion of the 
muscles under their fatty covering. He 
doubled the arm and felt the “ bail ” of the 
biceps. When the answer came it was frank. 

“ Might be all right in a rough- ’n-tumble. 
Dunno about my wind. Steam’s all there 
yet; but the speed ain’t what it used t’ be. 
But I sure could train to it. What’s doin’?” 

“ I want you to show Michael how to put 
up his dooks — and I want him showed 
right’’ 

Clink’s face fell, and his lip curled. He 
rested his elbows on his knees and bent so 
that he could see Bull Michael at the other 
end of the bench. 

“ Learn him! — t’ box!” he growled con- 
temptuously; “ it’s my opinion that nobody 
won’t ever learn him much of anything. 
He’s a dummy.” 

“ There’s ten dollars a week in it for you, 
if you’ll make the try,” Mai answered ; and 
that’s a darnsight more than you get pan- 
handlin’ and moppin’ up booze-joint floors.” 

At this category of his daily pursuits 
Clink took no umbrage. He continued to 
study Michael, who sat placidly, his eyes 
following Daddy Gail’s maneuvers with the 
watering-pot. 

“ Looks better’n he did,” remarked Clink 
after a pause. 

Two weeks had passed s'nce the lad had 
found the body of the roof-nrowling China- 
man under Britten’s bed. In the interim, 
the remains of Charley Ong had been duly 
fished out of the East River by the crew 
of a police launch, morgued, sat upon by 
the coroner, and turned over to the dece- 
dent’s slant-eyed kinsmen, who, with much 
beating of gongs and burning of joss-sticks, 
had spice^ it and packed it for its long jour- 
ney to the Flowery Kingdom. 

The police had promptly forgotten the 
incident; nor did its memories distress the 
slumbers of any of the denizens of Gail’s 
Jail. But in the rice-paper ledger of the 
Hop-Sing Tea and Importing Company — 
the main business of which was a gambling 
room — was an entry in red ink, which be- 
gan at the lower right hand comer of a 
sheet and covered half the page. That 
memorandum dealt with the decease of a 
half-partner in the business, and it spelled 
future trouble for someone, in Chinese italic 


capitals— trouble that was implacable, me- 
thodical, and that knew how to wait. 

In those two weeks Clink had seen little 
of Michael. There was reason for the 
fighter to remark that the lad looked better. 
Mai had been busy. In the first place, 
Michael’s hair had been cut, and a razor 
had removed the down of his first beard. 
Better fitting clothing had aided in the 
transformation. Britten’s incessant admoni- 
tions had taken much of the slouch from 
his figure. Given something to engage his 
interest, or a task on which to concentrate 
his mind, and Michael, in his light doth 
cap, blue flannel shirt and flowing tie, and 
dark trousers belted at the waist, was a 
remarkably personable youth. 

If, on the other hand, he were left to 
himself, in idleness, his shoulders sagged, 
his lower lip drooped, and he became the 
old Bull Michael of the vacant face and 
fathomless eyes. 

Clink finished his scrutiny. “ What’s the 
big scheme? Whatcha goin’ t’ do wit’ him?” 
he inquired. Mai’s eyes narrowed. 

“I’ll give you ten dollars a week for two 
hours a day of your valuable time, if you 
will teach him how to handle himself,” he 
replied coldly. “ Will you do it?” 

Clink shrugged his shoulders. “I c’n 
try,” he said. “ When d’va want me t’ 
start?” 

“ Now.” 

Under the tent the fighter drew a pair 
of the old gloves over Michael’s hands and 
laced them fast. When the other pair had 
been adjusted to his satisfaction by Britten, 
Clink stepped in front of Michael and as- 
sumed his favorite battling crouch. 

“ Put up yer hands,” he commanded. 

Obediently Michael raised his arms to 
their full stretch above his head and stood 
waiting and wondering. 

“ Aw, nix ! ” bawled Clink in high dis- 
dain. “ In fronter yuh, like I do; there, 
’t’s better. Now stand like me, left foot 
for’ard; so.” 

Michael fell into a clumsy imitation of 
Clink’s fighting posture. 

“ Now when I hit yuh, don’t lemme,” 
went on the instructor lucidly. “ An’ when 
yuh git a chanst, hit me — if yuh can. An’ 
remember this ain’t no goil’s game. 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


335 


A flash of interest lighted Michael’s eyes. 
So this was to be a game. When Clink 
made a feint at him, he attempted to parry 
with a bungling sweep of his left arm. 

“ Hit me! Hit me!” ordered Clink, be- 
ginning to dance on the balls of his feet. 

Michael started his right fist back of his 
hip and swung it wildly with the motion of 
a man delivering a bowling-ball. 

“ Hell!” sneered Clink; “ whatcha tryin’ 
t’ land on— th’ moon?” He tapped Michael 
lightly on the cheek. 

“ Don’t be afraid to hurt him,” Britten 
cut in. “ He can take punishment.” 

“ He’s go in’ to,” rejoined Clink grimly. 
“ Don’t swing like that,” he continued to 
Michael. “ Poke straight out, an’ put yer 
shoulder behind it — like this — ” Clink 
pivoted swiftly on his left heel and shot 
out his right fist, putting behind it every 
atom of weight and strength he could mus- 
ter. The blow fell on Michael’s chest with 
the boom of a drum. 

Such a punch, reaching its mark unhin- 
dered, would have almost knocked any man 
from his feet, and the fighter had so in- 
tended it. It only staggered Michael. 
Clink’s bloodshot eyes opened a trifle wider. 
“ Uh! this boid needs somethin’ t’ warm 
him up an’ git him goin’,” he grunted. 
“ Here goes!” In succession he struck the 
boy between the eyes, on the point of the 
jaw and in the throat, and added a jab in 
the wind for full measure. The blows were 
all skillfully delivered and merciless. 

Michael attempted vainly to defend him- 
self. Stung by the pain and swallowing 
hard, he turned and looked at Britten. The 
big blue eyes swam with tears. Mai nodded 
at him with a word of encouragement. 

“ Go on. Wade into him!” 

And Michael waded in. 

“ Hey, you damn big stiff, whatcha do- 
in’?” yelled Clink, making a wild grab to 
arrest Michael’s hand. There was a noise 
of tearing leather. Michael was taking off 
his gloves. He accomplished it in two move- 
ments. Then he laid hands on Mr. Wilson. 
Clink tried to back away; but he was too 
late. The boy’s arms closed around him. 

“ Cut it! Cut it!” exploded Clink furi- 
ously making ineffectual attempts to extri- 
cate himself. The fighter was a wrestler as 


well; but he was handicapped by his gloves 
and could get no hold. He went down, 
cursing manfully. 

' Britten and Daddy Gail, both of them 
laughing, stepped in and, with difficulty, 
righted matters. 

Winded from his unwonted exertions, 
Clink sat up. 

“Look what th’ simp went and done!” 
the fighter protested with bitterness. He 
held up the ruined gloves, the sleeves of 
which were still laced around Michael’s 
wrists. Britten handed him a five-dollar 
bill. 

“ Go and get another pair over in the 
avenue,” said Mai. “ With a little patience, 
the boy will learn.” 

“ Mebbe,” replied Clink, somewhat molli- 
fied. “ I helped train a bear t’ box wunst, 
an’ he acted that way at foist. This kid’s 
got lots o’ steam, all right, all right.” He 
went to get the gloves. 

“ Michael the fool — Mai Britten’s tool,” 
crooned Daddy Gail in the boy’s ear, as 
Michael sat once more on the bench. Mich- 
ael looked up at him and smiled. Michael’s- 
smile was a most compelling thing — a thing 
to stir the sweet memories of one’s lost 
childhood, if one had them. Daddy re- 
ceived the full benefit of it, and effaced 
himself, retiring precipitately behind the 
chimney. Arrived there he kicked himself 
viciously in the calf of his left leg with his 
right foot. 

“ Damn!” he said under his breath, and 
with singular emphasis. “ When that inno- 
cent looks at me like that, it shames me 
as I ain’t been shamed since before I cashed 
my first stack of chips on a Mississippi 
packet-boat; and that is a — long — time — 
a— go!” 

Clink fetched the new gloves, and Mich- 
ael learned to use them— not quickly or 
readily, but slowly, surely, and above all, 
efficiently. Impatient at first of his pupil’s 
awkwardness, the red-headed fighter often 
was discouraged and sometimes disgusted. 
But presently, when the results of his train- 
ing began to tell, Clink yielded grudging 
approval, to be succeeded in the course of 
time by enthusiasm. 

Life began to take on a new interest 
for Clink. As the growing skill of Michael 


336 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


made more demands on his powers, the 
fighter was ashamed not to be fit. The 
rigorous training wore away his gross fleshi- 
ness and freshened his blended complexion. 
His eyes became clear, and he drank less 
and less whisky. His dreams of future 
honors in the pugilistic arena took new and 
definite shape; only this time it was his 
pupil and not himself who figured in them 
as the principal. Clink taught Michael all 
that he knew of fighting, and as has been 
hinted, that was a very great deal. 

But it was far from Britten’s intent to 
make a pugilist of Michael. Entrusting to 
Clink the development of the boy’s body, 
Mai devoted himself no less assiduously to 
Michael’s brain. He found it an empty 
loom, on which he wove such patterns as 
he listed and in such colors as pleased him. 
Learning early that the lad’s best moments 
were those when he had something to do, 
Mai kept Michael incessantly employed. 
Other activities failing, he took the lad for 
long walks in all quarters of the city and 
accustomed him to its sights and sounds, 
both by day and by night. 

No detail that he could think of — and 
he thought of many — did Mai overlook. 
He had almost inexhaustible patience. An 
example of his painstaking was the manner 
in which he effected a change in even the 
expression of face of his pupil. To rid the 
lad of his vacuous stare and the lag of his 
lower lip, Britten practiced him for hours 
before a mirror, teaching him to contract 
his eyelids and gain control of his facial 
muscles. It was a long, hard task; but 
Mai succeeded. Michael came to look like 
other men. 

Anomalous as it may seem, Michael was 
extremely^ observant. lie would sit for 
flours where he had been left, not moving, 
not thinking, but seeing and remembering 
all that passed about him. In Central Park 
—best beloved by Michael of all spots in 
New York— not a. policeman, not a child, 
not a squirrel even, passed him unnoticed. 

“ Anyone could have taught him some- 
thing — for he’s no idiot,” thought Britten; 

only nobody ever cared. He learns only 
by doing things. If he is made to do 
enough, he will develop — but how far?” 

Mai’s theory — partly correct — was up- 


held by the fact that the day after Michael 
had lifted the stone in the yard of the Cul- 
ver House, he had dared to withstand the 
blacksmith. 

And Mai’s reasons? Why all of this 
laborious and Seemingly fruitless attempt 
at salvage in behalf of one who was nothing 
to him? He loved power. Had he been 
born a Roman, he undoubtedly would have 
been master of many slaves; probably he 
would have beaten them; and he would 
have taken a fierce pleasure in the lash. 
Afterward he would have given a largess; 
for he was not cruel at bottom. Shortly 
after his arrival at Gail’s Jail with Michael, 
he had purchased a heavy riding crop, 
which he had hung in his closet. He never 
used it. Eventually he took it down and 
threw it in Daddy’s ash-barrel. 

Notwithstanding his careless language, 
Britten was not lacking in education. He 
would have been capable in any of the pro- 
fessions, had he chosen to apply himself; 
but he preferred to travel along his own 
crooked path. Mai loved power. In the 
lad he had found a domain in which he was 
absolute. Some day he would make prac- 
tical use of his ascendancy. 

Daddy Gail, too, took a hand in the up- 
bringing of Michael. 

“ Michael,” he said one day, “ you’ll 
never truly appreciate me until you can 
read my verses. I’m going to teach you 
to read.” 

Perhaps Daddy set himself the hardest 
task of the lad’s three preceptors. But he 
managed, nevertheless, after many disap- 
pointments, to teach Michael his letters, 
and from that actually to read- — providing 
the reading was not too complicated. 

Michael retained his love for fairy-tales. 
They were his reward for work well done. 
When Britten’s inventiveness failed him, he 
had recourse to books; and great was Mich- 
ael’s delight when, under Daddy’s tutelage, 
he spelled laboriously through his first ex- 
cursion with the brothers Grimm — and was 
able to gather, as through a veil, a dim 
sense of the meaning of the words he read. 

So they educated Michael, And Mich- 
ael, though he did not refuse to learn, 
showed no active desire to be taught. Do- 
ing always to the last jot and tittle any 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


337 


task within his powers to which he was as- 
signed by the superior mind, he showed 
none of the quality of determination, only 
a vast stubbornness to do, purposeless ex- 
cept as purpose was imparted to it. 

For he seemed to be absolutely lacking 
in the vital spark of will . Will is the soul, 
and the soul of Bull Michael slept and 
dreamed and would not awake. Perhaps 
Britten expressed it as well as could be. 

“ There’s a soul somewhere in those big 
works, all right,” he said ; “ but it’s loafin’ 
on the job and won’t take hold.” 

So they educated Michael, each in his 
own way; and he in turn brought a single- 
mindedness to the accomplishment of his 
tasks that surprised all of them. 

“ I aim to furnish him the soul,” thought 
Britten. 

“ I’ll teach him to read,” said Daddy. 

I’ll make a champeen outa him,” de- 
clared Clink. 

But who would wake up the soul that 
was asleep? 

Michael was tireless; but his teachers 
found that there were distinct limits to their 
accomplishments with him. 

Britten could not teach Michael to act 
independently. 

Clink could not teach him tc^wear. 
Michael’s few emotions felt no need for 
such translation. A profane word on his 
lips was a rarity. 

And Daddy Gail could not teach him to 
make rhymes. 

CHAPTER V. 

* 

THE GIRL IN THE WATER. 

F OR more years than he cared to recall, 
Britten had lived beyond the limits 
circumscribed by the law. He was, in 
one short word, a crook, and pre-eminent in 
his vocation. His return to Gail’s Jail was 
a home-coming — Gail’s Jail, which Daddy 
had named whimsically because in its time 
it had sheltered more crooks than most 
jails. 

Mai came back as from a short vacation. 
He came to take up the thread of his life 
where he had laid it down fofr a time. When 
he had decided to bring Bull Michael with 

2 A-S 


him, it was in no spirit of philanthropy or 
uplift. Britten was not a philanthropist. 
But he had imagination. He had brought 
the lad because in his future purposes 
Michael filled a large niche. Michael could 
be put to use. 

“ Michael the fool— Mai Britten’s tool,” 
Daddy Gail had crooned. That was it. 
But first the tool must be tempered and 
made fit. What a wonderful tod it would 
be, Britten thought, seeing the possibilities 
unfold in Michael— a man, yet not a man, 
but a delicate, soulless machine, to be con- 
trolled and guided by the master-mind. 

So Mai had brought the machine to 
Gail’s Jail to be perfected; for Daddy’s 
place was not only an asylum; it was a 
college. All of the modern black arts were 
in its curriculum. 

Hidden by the coal in Daddy’s cellar was 
a trap which opened on a flight of stone 
steps. Below was a crypt, or room — it 
was more than twenty feet square — which 
had been blasted out of the rock. Gail’s 
Jail was old; but it had been built on the 
site of a far older mansion, for the owner 
of which that rock-walled vault had served 
as a secret granary or cistern, more proba- 
bly the latter. Daddy had discovered it 
and turned it to his own uses. He called it 
the Catacomb. It had graduated many a 
super-excellent cracksman. 

In due time Michael was initiated into 
the mysteries of the Catacomb. There he 
learned step by step and slowly — for he 
never learned anything quickly— mastery 
of all the criminal devices of the day, from 
the crude tricks of the tyro yeggman to the 
noiseless finesse of the expert manipulator 
of safe combinations. 

He learned the uses of bar and wedge and 
jimmy, of glass-cutter, gum-mastic and 
wire. He was taught how, with a few drops 
of oil and a bit of a blue-steel saw hardly 
larger than a watch-spring, to remove a bar 
of the finest chilled steel. He learned to 
use blanket and soap, and how to pour 
“ soup ” — an operation with nitroglycerin 
which much belies its culinary sound. 

Such things were the rudiments only of 
the trade in which Michael was apprenticed. 
From them he progressed through the uses 
of bits and drills, of keys and of slender, 


338 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


long-nosed pliers, until he reached the 
higher mathematics of the oxy-hydro blast 
flame and the electrodes, the spitting, siz- 
zling green jet of which fuses its way 
through walls of tempered metal as a hot 
knife sinks through a pat of butter. 

In the muffled silence of the Catacomb, 
surrounded by the paraphernalia which had 
been assembled there — complete, even to 
panels exhibiting the latest patterns of the 
lock-makers’ skill — Britten poured this 
knowledge into the empty chambers of 
Michael’s brain, poured it and watched it 
set. 

When .the little man had finished, there 
were few of the palisades with which men 
surround the things they value here, that 
Michael could not pass. 

He could cross a flooring of loose boards 
or negotiate a rickety stairway as softly as 
a cat, with never a creak or rattle to be- 
tray him. He learned to unlock and open 
a strange door in the darkness, with the al- 
most infinite patience that can proceed by 
the hundredth of an inch at a move and, 
if needful, spend an hour at the task — a 
feat the difficulties of which are to be ap- 
preciated by those only who have essayed 
it. He could ascend a slender wire with no 
other aids than a couple of handkerchiefs 
and a pair of small door-hinges, the inner 
surfaces of which had been corrugated with 
a file. To climb a smooth pole or the 
angle of a wall of masonry, was child’s 
play for Michael. 

If the New York park custodians still 
are curious to know who it was that on a 
certain autumn night in 190 — shinned up 
the ancient Egyptian obelisk in Central 
Park and balanced at its apex a big yellow 
pumpkin, they may read their answer here. 
The whimsey was Britten’s. The climber 
was Bull Michael. 

All of this training took time; but Brit- 
ten had time, which is to say that he had 
money. Unlike the majority of his ilk, he 
was not improvident. When one of his en- 
terprises proved lucrative, he knew how to 
care for the profits. 

Some months before his appearance in 
Kingston, Mai had conceived and carried 
through his raid on the coffers of the Hop- 
Sing Company. His helper had been one 


Scarborough, a broken-down croupier, who 
had strayed East from somewhere beyond 
the Mississippi. Mai had put him on his 
feet, and at an opportune time Scarborough 
had sought and obtained employment in 
the Hop-Sing gambling-room. He had 
demonstrated his worth to the entire satis- 
faction of his employers. For six months 
he had been an exemplary and profitable 
croupier. But one night a small, dark man 
had sauntered in, “ gone against ” the table, 
and broken the Hop-Sing bank to the tune 
of a sum in five figures. 

The successful gamester had disappeared 
as quietly and unostentatiously as he had 
come. Scarborough was to have had a 
share in the “ plant but he did not come 
to claim it, never was heard from again. It 
was that coup which had led the ill-fated 
Charley Ong to go over the roofs to Gail’s 
Jail, seeking further vengeance. 

Shortly after his return to New York, 
and as a cloak to future operations, Britten 
purchased a part interest in a small saloon 
in Second Avenue. That gave him not only 
an ostensible source of income, but also a 
certain and grateful prestige with the men 
in the precinct houses. Within loosely- 
held limits, his doings would not be ques- 
tioned too closely. 

And Michael? Always passive in the 
hands of his masters, the boy thrived and 
developed much as Britten had foreseen 
and wished; and if his brain did not attain 
intelligence as intelligence is reckoned in 
the normal brain, at least it laid in a great 
store of curious knowledge which it did not 
forget. 

Of his three mentors Michael had his 
own limited conceptions. For Britten he 
held a vast respect, a devotion tinged with 
awe, and he obeyed Mai’s slightest com- 
mand with never a thought of question. He 
liked Clink as a rather rough playmate and 
comrade who laughed at him, mussed him 
up and occasionally hurt him; but that was 
all in the game. It must be said that with 
Michael’s growing proficiency in all things 
pertaining to his body, the time was not 
long in arriving when it was Clink who was 
hurt fully as frequently as Michael in their 
encounters. Clink’s contemptuous tolerance 
of the lad changed rapidly into a strong 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


339 


and abiding friendliness. He even would 
have shared his liquor with Michael; but 
that was sternly forbidden by Britten, who 
was determined that his pupil should have 
no vices except those of his (Britten’s) 
own choosing. 

For Daddy Gail Michael cherished a still 
different feeling. He loved the old man as 
a fragile and precious sort of a fairy who 
aroused in him a dim instinct to protect — 
manifestations of which amused that old 
freebooter mightily. 

Then came for Michael a never-to-be- 
forgotten night when Britten needs must 
go forth and test the tool he had forged. 
Mai chose a jewelry store well up-town for 
his operations. A barred window in the 
rear wall offered little obstacle to his in- 
gress. Showcases obscured it from the view 
of passers-by in the street. The safe which 
he meant to attempt, however, stood plain- 
ly in sight at the back of the store. An 
electric light burned above it. 

An alley from another street, a fire- 
escape, the roof, and a length of rope, made 
a trackless path to a blind court, into which 
the window opened. Shortly after one 
o’clock in the morning Britten and Bull 
Michael, crouching at the end of the show- 
cases, received a signal from Clink in the 
street, which told them that the coast was 
clear. 

In two minutes Britten had adjusted in 
front of the safe a square of canvas done 
in Daddy Gail’s best art. When the paint- 
ing was in place, no one glancing in from 
the street w r ould have suspicioned that he 
was not looking at the front of the safe, 
well had Daddy limned his representation 

Behind that screen Britten kept wat r ’i 
and Bull * Michael worked. Under tire 
magic of Britten’s tongue, Prince Michael 
once more was doing a good turn for his 
old friends the fairies. Masking his elec- 
trodes carefully under a hood, Michael in 
half an hour cut the combination out of the 
front of the safe as cleanly as though the 
fairies themselves had aided him. 

It was not a big haul, perhaps six thou- 
sand dollars in platinum and unset gems, 
of which Britten, with connoisseur’s wis- 
dom, selected only the best; but it was the 
precursor of many more to follow. All were 


made with a neatness and absence of tell- 
tale bungling that appalled the police. By 
the daring and skill of the workmanship, 
they recognized that one who had mocked 
their best efforts aforetime had returned 
among them. 

Once more the coals glowed white under 
the melting-pot in the Catacomb; and 
Daddy Gail, watching its chill of disuse 
disappear in the glow, furbished up his old- 
time wiles as a “ feftce ” and* prepared for 
an era of prosperity. 

It was not alone the prospect of renewed 
opulence that the old man welcomed with 
glee. Toasting his breakfast, so to speak, 
at the edge of a powder-pit, was as the 
breath in Daddy’s nostrils. His enjoy- 
ment was marred by no qualms of either 
conscience or fear. He believed in “ Gail’s 
luck.” The police had never “ had any- 
thing on ” him. That he would meet his 
come-uppance some day, he did not doubt. 

But none of these chaps that the city 
hires to keep the bartenders busy, is going 
to give it to me,” said Daddy. 

As for . the other residents of Gail’s Jail: 
they never gossiped. What they knew was 
dangerous to repeat. What they did not 
know was not a source of worry to them. 

When automobiles came into general use, 
Britten bought one. Daddy, tenacious of 
old ways, viewed the purchase with sus- 
picion. 

“ Don’t do it, Mai; devil’s truck — bad 
luck,” he advised. But Mai laughed and 
bought the car. By its means he was en- 
abled to enlarge his field of operations. The 
raiders who laired in Gail’s Jail were among 
the first of the so-called “ motor pirates.” 
Many a wealthy suburbanite, many a com- 
fortable commuter, was the poorer after 
their visits. Michael learned to operate 
the car and loved it; but Daddy never 
could be induced to ride in it. 

Three years wore away. Michael came 
to his full growth. Six feet and a generous 
three inches he stood in his twenty-first 
year, a stature that would have made him 
a conspicuous figure had it not been for 
the breadth of shoulders that made him 
seem much shorter than he really was. The 
once loosely-hung frame had knit firmly 
under his training, and in his muscles was 


MO 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


that compound of strength and elasticity 
that makes the jungle animal terrible. 
Scarcely a hint remained in either face or 
figure of the shambling boy with the lag- 
ging lip who had come down the river on 
the Mary Powell three years before. 

But the years and Britten’s careful 
teaching had not bred initiative in Michael. 
He was still no more than a well-nigh per- 
fect tool. 

“ ’S’e always goin’ t’ be a nut? Won’t he 
never learn to do nuthin’ by his lonesome?” 
asked Clink of Britten. Clink, less and 
less given to cups, had been elevated to the 
position of Mai’s trusted lieutenant. He 
affected a modest diamond stud and felt 
himself competent to speak in council. 
When Mai shook his head, the fighter 
sighed. He liked Michael. 

“ Look at th’ way he drives th’ buzz- 
wagon,” Clink went on. “ When there’s 
some one wit’ him, he’s a reglar eat-’em-up 
speed devil, better ’n ’leven outa ten of 
yer real chuffeers. But send him out alone 
somewheres, an’ there won’t none of these 
jay constables earn any of their pork-chops 
off’n Mike. He drives like an old woman 
an’ gets there day after to-morrow.” 

Crossing one day from the Jersey shore, 
where they had been on a pleasure tramp 
along the marshes, Clink and Michael stood 
aft near the rail of the ferry. It was an 
afternoon in midsummer, and the sun cast 
a hot sheen on the water. Passing boats 
seemed to be pushing their way through 
a heavy flood of molten metal. Clink, 
turning from a fruitless search for “ peach- 
erinos,” saw that Michael’s eyes were fixed 
on the reaches of the river, and in them 
was the vague, brooding expression which 
always made Clink covertly uneasy. 

“Hey, Mike!” The fighter nudged his 
comrade in the ribs. “ Whatcha t’inkin’ 
about?” 

It was a question which Clink often 
asked of Michael. More times than not, 
the answers were meaningless to Clink. 

“ Up there — the gold comes down the 
river,” Michael replied softly, without look- 
ing around. He pointed to the sun-glitter 
on the ripples. “ Always coming down — 
all the gold and silver from far away — to 
New York. Where does it go to, Clink?” 


Here, for a wonder, was a reply of which' 
the red-headed one thought he could distil 
some sense. 

“ To th’ banks,” he answered promptly. 

Up-stream a little way and on a parallel 
course, another ferry-boat was crossing. As 
they neared the New York side, the courses 
of the craft converged. They were to make 
landing at adjacent docks. A trick of mov- 
ing color on the other boat caught and held 
Michael’s wandering eyes. 

A girl stood on the after-deck near the 
folding gate. She was looking down the 
river. One hand rested on the rail. With 
the other she pressed lightly on the crown 
of a wide straw hat, of which the vagrant 
river breezes were trying to rob her. She 
wore a waist of soft, pale blue crape, open 
at her throat and short of sleeve, a belt of 
shining leather, and a white skirt. Nature 
had not been niggardly with her in either 
face or figure, and had crowned the endow- 
ment with a generous gift of red-brown 
hair. 

Clink had failed dismally in the search 
of his boat for anything feminine that was 
worth mentioning. Could he have had a 
near view of this girl, he would have feasted 
his eyes and felt that his day had not been 
wasted. And he would have said: 

“ Oh, boys! A peacher ino!” 

But Clink was looking elsewhere; and it 
was Michael who saw the vision. His eyes 
had been attracted by the blue of her waist, 
and he continued to watch her dreamily. 
She was dividing her attention between the 
scene on the river and an elderly woman 
who stood at her elbow and toward whom 
she directed a succession of animated re- 
marks. An immense young man in a fawn- 
colored suit, who was one of a group of 
chatters near the door to the cabin, stared 
continually at the girl with unconcealed 
approval. 

At last came the chance that the mis- 
chievous breeze had waited for. The girl, 
making a vivacious gesture, forgot her vigi- 
lance and relaxed for an instant the pres- 
sure on her hat. The breeze snatched at 
it, caught it and tossed it over the gate, 
where it flapped perilously near the edge 
of the deck. 

With a little cry, the girl started in pur- 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


341 


suit. Before any one could forestall her, 
she darted under the horse-chains and ran 
along the unrailed decking. Steadying her- 
self with one hand on the lifted gangway, 
she bent swiftly. 

Almost the rescue succeeded. Her fin- 
gers were closing on the hat-brim, when the 
breeze, with a last spiteful breath, whipped 
it fluttering into the air. The girl leaned 
farther, stretching her hand above the 
water, slipped and lost her hold on the 
gang-plank. The hat rose in brief, foolish 
flight and fell back on the deck. The girl 
plunged head-first into the river. 

Shrieks and shouts arose from the deck, 
followed by the clangor of bells and the 
puffing of reversed engines. The man in 
the fawn-colored suit rushed into the cabin 
and out again, heavily-laden, threw four 
life preservers into the water in the general 
direction of the Jersey shore, and a great 
deal of profanity to the winds. 

Hardly had the echo of the first cry 
reached the lower ferry, when Michael left 
Clink’s side in a diving leap that carried 
him clean over the rail and many feet on 
his course. 

“ What th’ — ” shouted Clink. Then his 
eyes and ears told him what had happened. 
He heard the clamor, saw the girl strug- 
gling ineffectually in the water behind the 
other boat, and saw that Michael was mak- 
ing his way toward her. Clink laid a hand 
on the rail to vault it and follow, hesitated, 
looked down at a brand-new suit, cursed 
and dismissed the intention. Already 
Michael was too far away to be overtaken 
by water. 

“ He c’n take care of himself — an’ her,” 
muttered Clink, and he hurried to the front 

I ' 

of the ferry, which was wearing into dock 
between her floating buffers. 

It was not until some time afterward that 
Clink remembered, and wondered at it, that 
Michael had taken action independently, 
without any word of command or guidance; 
in fact, had seen and appraised the predica- 
ment of the girl and had gone before Clink' 
himself had realized what had happened. 

Years before, in the creek that flows back 
of Higginsville, Michael had learned td 
swim. He had improved that knowledge 
since his coming to New York by many 


dips with Clink at Sheepshead, Brighton 
Beach, and Coney. He now tore his way 
through the golden flood with the long, 
carrying side-stroke of a powerful and prac- 
tised swimmer. No one else had gone to 
the rescue of the girl; none other was 
needed. Long before the young man in the 
fawn suit had quit a wild search for more 
life-preservers. Michael had reached her. 

She too knew how to swim. But in her 
first plunge she had swallowed considerable 
unpleasantness; her fall had been sudden 
and unexpected; her clothing hampered her. 
She floundered, choked, swallowed more 
brine and — lost her head. When Michael 
came alongside of her, she forgot the first 
principles of her swimming instructor and 
laid hold of her rescuer with the blind 
clutch of panic. 

Michael had a glimpse of her face before 
her arms clipped around his neck, and it 
aroused a strong memory from slumber. 
That red-brown hair, that saucy mouth, 
those straight, dark eyebrows — Michael’s 
heart warmed to the sight of them. How 
well he remembered the last time he had 
seen them, looking down at them through 
a screen of nodding daisies, white and yel- 
low. He passed an arm beneath the girl’s 
shoulders. 

“Don’t be afraid — Lizzie Smith,” he 
said; “ Michael will — ” 

The tightening arms drew his head down, 
and he too tasted of the bitterness of the 
golden river. He fought himself free of it, 
turned on his side and dragged at the girl’s 
arms. They relaxed under his pressure, 
but tightened spasmodically, and more des- 
perately than before. But he had seen her 
face again, her eyes terror-wide. They 
were gray eyes. Lizzie Smith’s were brown. 
This was not Lizzie Smith. 

In vain he tried to loosen that frenzied 
hold at his neck. The half-bare, slender 
arms clung fast, and he feared lest he break 
them with his efforts. He could still swim; 
but the girl’s face was under water. He 
turned on his back. That did not effect his 
purpose. She had burrowed with her head 
under his chin and was strangling there. 

Perhaps it was a fragment of Clink’s 
water-wisdom that returned to Michael 
then. He did not reason it. He knew only 


342 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


that this clinging, struggling she-thing was 
hampering his every movement, would drag 
them both to the bottom if she were allowed 
to persist. 

Kicking vigorously to sustain them, 
Michael with one hand turned her head 
around on his chest and with the other fist 
struck her on the point of the chin. 

He struck lightly; but a blow from Bull 
Michael, thus planted, even though lightly 
delivered, was a thing to stagger a strong 
man. The girl’s struggles ceased, her arms 
fell limply away from his throat, and she 
became inert in his hands. For him, the 
rest was easy. He swam to the rear of the 
ferry-boat and with his burden was hauled 
to the deck at the end of a rope. 

Frightened, half-hysterical women re- 
ceived the girl from his arms and cared for 
her. 

Michael shook the water from him like a 
big dog and started to go forward. He was 
stolidly indifferent alike to praise and com- 
ment. He wanted only to find Clink again 
and to get away. 

His way was barred by the large young 
man in the fawn clothes, who was snorting 
with excess wrath, a four-carat-power dia- 
mond on his soft shirt-front rising and 
falling with each indignant breath. He 
was even larger than Michael. 

‘‘I seen you, you damn, measly pup!” 
he bellowed. “ I seen you clout th’ lady in 
th’ jaw, you mutt! An’ I’m goin’ to bust 
your bean open for it! T’ swat a lady like 
that!” 

He paused and gulped. The innocent 
regard of Michael’s steady blue eyes added 
flame to the fire of righteous wrath he had 
worked up. 

" Boob!” 

A big arm swung through the air with 
a vigor that made its owner grunt. Evi- 
dently the large man had intended to slap 
Michael’s mouth. But Michael removed 
that feature with a celerity born of long 
training. The aftermath of that blow was 
terrific. 

As the open hand fanned past him, 
Michael threw his weight on the ball of one 
foot, and shot out his right fist. His ad- 
versary saw it coming, and with a ludicrous 
expression of consternation, tried to 


“ cover.” But he had left too wide an 
opening. Michael’s knuckles caught him 
cleanly on the point of the jaw— and this 
time Michael was not striking lightly. His 
shoulder was back of the blow. The man 
in fawn thwacked down on the deck so 
hard that its flooring creaked. 

Companions of the fallen man ran to his 
assistance. There were a number of them, 
and they might have attempted reprisal on 
Michael; but the boat had docked, and 
Clink had come up — barely in time to wit- 
ness with awesome joy the ruinous work of 
his pupil. The red-headed fighter pushed 
determinedly through the crowd and led 
Michael away. 

And Michael never knew that he had 
knocked “ cold ” the second-best prize- 
fighter in the . Americas. Because the 
gladiator cherished ambitions to become 
shortly the first-best, and because vaude- 
ville was making signals in his direction 
with a silken purse, Michael was allowed to 
slip away, and press-agents were active to 
hush accounts of this laurelless encounter. 
But Clink had recognized the adversary, 
and he went home to tell Mai with bated 
breath of Michael’s prowess. 

Scarcely had the two disappeared, when 
the girl recovered her jarred wits. The 
elderly woman was bending over her when 
she opened her eyes. 

“ Oh, aunty! ” she shuddered. And then, 
her gaze straying about the cabin where 
they had laid her: 

“ Where is he? Who was he?” 

Those questions were like to have re- 
mained unanswered. But a newsboy — one 
of those urchins who go everywhere, hear 
everything, and amass knowledge that the 
police pine for in vain, piped up: 

“ Say, loidy, dat was Bully Mike, th’ 
strongest guy in Nuh Yoik!” 

CHAPTER VI. 
devil’s truck. 

C LINK finished a fervid account of 
Michael’s adventure, stated his own 
conclusions therefrom and looked 
eagerly at Britten. 

“ Got a good chanst to be world’s cham- 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


343 


pecn his next battle, that bird has — 'n 
Mike gets one clean punch in on his jaw 
n puts him down fer th’ count! I’m tellin’ 
yuh, Mai, youse is wastin’ this boy’s time! 
He might be cham peen his ownself an’ 
make a million or two, wit, th’ punch he 
carries— an’ a good manager! 

“ T’ink what a drawin’-card he’d be — 
yuh could bill him as th’ Silent Wonder, er 
th' Marv’lus Mystery, er somethin’,” 
pleaded the red-headed one. “ We could 
make a fortune. Aw, Mai, lemme take him 
an’ go to it.” 

Britten, Daddy, Clink and Michael were 
sitting in Daddy’s kitchen-studio. The 
three older men had drawn their chairs 
around the table. Michael, as usual, oc- 
cupied a chair near the stove, and was 
greatly interested in the feeding of Bill the 
parrot, to whom he was portioning out 
small fragments of cracker. 

Keen interest and considerable satisfac- 
tion had marked Daddy’s and Mai’s re- 
ception of the recital of the afternoon’s in- 
cident. At the denouement, graphically 
related by Clink, Daddy chuckled audibly. 
Mai laid a. hand on the table and drummed 
absently with his finger-tips while the other 
two awaited his verdict. 

“ Might be right — to let him fight; and 
then again, it mightn’t,” hazarded Daddy, 
and touche# a match to a fresh cigar. 

Britten, stubborn in his own purposes, 
shook his head slowly. 

“ I hope the newspapers don’t get hold 
of this and make a mess of it,” he said. 

“ Aw, yuh needn’t worry about them 
doin’ nothin’ with’ it, unless yuh go to ’em 
wit’ it,” said Clink; “ which yuh won’t,” 
he added wflth patent disgust. “ Huh! 
t’ink if I was a guy’s manager, ’n th’ guy 
had th’ chanst this one’s got, that I’d chase 
to th’ papers an’ shoot it to ’em that he’d 
been laid cold by some unknown gazabo 
in a ferry-boat row? Nix. This chump’s 
managers ’ll singe their shoes gittin’ to th’ 
papers to see that it’s left out. Why 
wouldn’t they?’’ 

“ Who was the girl? What was she 
like?” asked Daddy. 

“ Dunno,” replied Clink; “ th’ only flash 
I got at her was after she’d been in th’ 
drink, an’ she was soaked, knocked stiff an’ 


her hair cornin’ down. Judgin’ by her feet, 
she might ’a’ been a neat little jane if she’d 
been dry. But there was an old dame wit’ 
white hair wit’ her that looked like a 
t’oroughbred.” 

“ And Michael — you didn't tell him to 
go in after the girl?” queried Britten. 

“ Naw; ain’t I been tellin’ yuh? I was 
lookin’ th’ other way, an’ I didn’t know th’ 
skirt was in th’ drink till Mike done a 
brody off th’ boat an’ went after her. An’ 
I hustles myself around to th’ other boat 
an’ gets there just in time to see his nibs 
take a swing, an’ Mike soaks him in th’ 
chops wit’ a short-arm lallapaloosa — God! 
What a haymaker he put over!” 

“ What I think is this,” Mai went on, un- 
moved by the enthusiasm of Clink ; “ the 
boy’s got something in him somewhere — a 
soul or a will, whichever one wants to call 
it. We haven’t been able to get hold of it, 
and he don’t know it’s there; but once in 
a while something reaches it and stirs it, 
and it moves, as it did to-day. I’ve seen 
it before — just flashes of it. You saw it 
to-day, It gets stronger. The more he 
does things, the stronger it gets. It’s pos- 
sible that the time will come when he’ll 
wake up and not be so far different from 
the rest of us — maybe a damn sight better.” 

“ Yuh mean his brains ’ll begin to tick, 
an’ he won’t be a nut any more?” de- 
manded Clink. 

“ No; 1 don’t mean brains,” Mai re- 
plied. “ He’s got a better set of brains 
right now than any one of the three of 
us—” 

“ Youse don’t put that down me,” in- 
terrupted Clink. “ ’F he had ’em, he’d use 
’em, an’ he wouldn’t have to be w’ound up 
all the time like th’ dinky little tin dolls 
yuh see ’em sellin’ to th’ kids on th’ side- 
walks over in Twenty-T’ird Street.” 

“ But you think he can fight. You want 
to put him in the ring,” suggested Britten. 

“ Sure; he knows that. He knows — ” 

“ You’re dead right, he knows; and how 
in blazes do you think he would know if he 
didn’t have a brain to put the knowledge 
in — and a good one, too? You just tie that 
up for a minute, and I’ll try to tell you 
what I mean.” 

Some of Britten’s theories might have 


344 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


been of interest at the board of the Society 
for Psychical Research. It is certain that 
they would have met a response from those 
patient experts who are doing so much in 
the reclamation and development of sub- 
normal children. He proceeded to roll one 
of them over Mr. Wilson’s prostrate form. 

“ You, Clink, and a lot of other fellows 
think that your brains are all there is to 
the works. Because you use them to think 
with and to dream with, you think that 
they are you. I don’t think so. I think there 
is a something beyond the brain, something 
higher, that makes use of the brain just as 
the brain in turn makes use of the hand. I 
think that the brain is a mere part of the 
machinery of the body, like the eye or the 
stomach. When the rest of the body dies, 
the brain dies. But this other something — 
call it will, or call it soul, or what you like 
— does not die when the body dies. It is 
not a part of the machinery, any more than 
the electric power is a part of the motor 
through which it works. 

“ That’s what is the matter with 
Michael; this other thing, the real power, 
the true Michael, which lives in his brain 
or behind it, is out of touch with the brain. 
In a sort of a way it is asleep. To show 
what I mean: When you are asleep, your 
brain goes on working sometimes, and you 
dream. You don’t know anything about it, 
though you sometimes remember your 
dreams, because your brain has made a 
record of them. Unless the dream becomes 
violent and disturbs the brain so that it 
wakes the real you up, you don’t know 
any more about it, or feel it, any more than 
you feel your stomach at work on the food 
you put in it. Sometimes the food makes 
the stomach ache; sometimes the dream 
makes the brain ache; that’s all. 

“ Perhaps some day the real Michael 
will climb into the cab and take charge of 
the engine. Until he does, some one else 
must, as you say, wind it up and see that 
it goes straight. Do you get it?” 

“ Damned if I do,” said Clink, and 
scratched his red head. “ That’s too deep 
stuff fer me. I know he c’n hit like hell.” 
He turned to Michael, who had been lis- 
tening uncomprehendingly to the conversa- 
tion. “ Can’t yuh, Mike?” 


“ What?” asked Michael. 

“ Can’t yuh hit like hell?” 

Michael looked down at his swollen 
knuckles and nodded. 

“ Yes,” he said. 

“ Does it ever strike you, Mai,” said 
Daddy, “ that, after all the thinking you’ve 
done, and the way you look at things, 
you’re taking quite a bit on yourself, man- 
aging Michael the way you do?” 

“ How’s that?” Britten queried. 

“ Why, by your own theory — and it may 
be pretty near to the truth — Michael’s soul 
is clean, and you can’t do anything that will 
spot it. No matter what you make him do, 
you are as responsible as if you’d done it 
yourself — absolutely. Seems to me that 

your own soul is carrying double. I’d be 
kinda careful.” 

Mai laughed. He shook his finger at 
Michael. 

“ Whatever else you do, Michael, never 
kill a man, or it’s me that will be live-wired 
for the murder.” 

“ You’d ought ’a’,” said Daddy. 

“ Since when have you turned to moral- 
izing, you old pirate?” chuckled Britten. 

Britten, keenly watching through many 
weeks, saw no further soul-flashes from the 
depths of Michael’s being. To all out- 
ward seeming, the lad was as he had been 
— a wondrously trained body with a brain 
which, mirrorlike, reflected only that which 
passed before it. 

“To be developed, that soul must wake 
up. It must use itself,” thought Mai. “ It’s 
like a man trying to get his ‘ touch ’ playing 
billiards. He works and works and doesn’t 
seem to improve; and then all at once 
some day it comes to him. But to start 
Michael’s soul to working; I’ll be cussed if 
I know how. And if I had the key, I won- 
der would I turn it? He might not be so 
useful then.” 

In the late autumn an incident occurred, 
which, if it did not surprise the imperturb- 
able Britten, puzzled him mightily and set' 
his inquiring mind on a new train of 
thought. He stood one night with Michael 
in the library of a splendid home in River- 
side Drive. The immediate object of their 
call was a small safe, set into the library 
wall at breast height and masked by an 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


345 


ornamental panel. Within that strong-box, 
if Britten’s information did not lie, was a 
comfortable sum of money and gew-gaws 
which the melting-pot in the Catacomb at 
Gail’s Jail would convert speedily into a 
small fortune. 

It was November, but still warm. A 
side window above the lawn had been left 
open as a way to retreat. Somewhere in 
the shadows outside Clink was on guard. 
Britten found the safe-panel, opened it 
noiselessly and threw the ray of his flash- 
lamp on the inner door. It was not a com- 
bination affair, to be solved by sensitive 
fingers, but a complicated lock, accessible 
to its own peculiar key — a job for the 
drills. Mai touched Michael on the shoul- 
der. The lad laid out his tools on the floor 
and flashed his own light on the work in 
hand. 

Something on the wall above the safe 
caught Michael’s eye. He raised the light. 

A picture hung there — a large framed 
picture of a slender girl with laughing eyes 
and saucy mouth. She was in yachting 
costume. One hand rested on a taffrail, 
and a section of decking showed behind her. 
From under her white cap strayed a cloud 
of windblown hair. It was not a posed 
photograph, but an enlargement from a 
snapshot, the unstudied naturalness of 
which made it particularly charming. 

At sight of that smiling face with its 
straight, dark eyebrows and piquant mouth, 
Michael’s heart jumped queerly. An old 
memory brought to his lips the whispered 
words: “ Lizzie Smith.” A newer memory 
stilled them. It was the girl of the ferry- 
boat — so like and yet so unlike his old- 
time playmate. 

For the moment forgetful of time and 
place, his lips parted with pleasure in the 
recognition, Michael gazed at the picture. 
Britten touched him impatiently on the 
shoulder, signaling that it was time to begin 
work. 

But that safe was destined to stay un- 
raped. In the eyes of Michael it had a 
guardian more potent than blue-uniformed 
men or triple plates of tempered steel. 

He bent over, gathered up his tools with 
silent fingers, and started back across the 
room the way he had come. Britten turned 


his flash-light on the lad and plucked at his 
elbow with a quick gesture of inquiry. 
Michael, taught long before to be wordless 
on such excursions, shook his head and con- 
tinued on his way. In a moment he had 
swung out through the open window and 
was lost in the blackness. 

Britten was left alone with the realiza- 
tion that for the first time in their long 
comradeship Michael had rebelled against 
his authority. Though he was unable to 
guess the entire reason for the sudden de- 
fection, Mai’s quick eyes had not missed 
the incident of the picture. He went back 
and turned his light upon it. . 

“ Damned pretty girl,” he soliloquized 
under his breath. “ Michael, Michael, 
what’s coming over you?” 

As he started toward the window, a head 
bobbed up in its opening. Clink drew him- 
self into the room. 

“ What’s doin’?” hissed the fighter. 
“ Mike’s gone back to th’ car wit’ th’ tools. 
Yuh ain’t cracked it this quick?” 

“ No; Michael backed out on me,” whis- 
pered Britten. He led Clink to the picture 
and once more turned the flash on it. 
“ There’s the reason. Can you figure it 
out? He got one look at it, picked up his 
tools and beat' it,” 

“ By me,” was Clink’s comment. “ Say, 
that little jane’s a real peacherino, ain’t 
she? But I didn’t t’ink th’ dames was 
gettin’ Mike’s goat any — yet.” Clink 
laughed soundlessly. “ Well, yuh goin’ to 
crack th’ crib?” he asked. 

“ How can I? Michael took the tools 
with him, and by the way he was hanging 
onto ’em when he left, he ain’t going to let 
anybody else handle ’em to-night.” 

Britten laughed in turn. In the darkness 
he bowed to the picture on the wall. 

“ Good-by, Miss Mystery,” he whis- 
pered. “ You may keep your jewels. I 
ain’t coming back.” 

“ Goin’ to try it again?” asked Clink 
when they were outside. 

“ No,” Mai replied. “ Not twice in the 
same place. I’m superstitious. I’d give 
the value of all we’re leaving back there, 
though, just to know what is passing 
through that fool Michael’s brain.” 

That was something that Britten never 


346 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


found out. Although he and Clink and 
Daddy by turns questioned Michael about 
his strange behavior, they could draw from 
him no more enlightening reply than that 
he had seen a “ good fairy.” 

But in the heart of Michael a new deity 
was enshrined. She was called the Gold 
Girl, and she held equal place there with 
the lost Gold Lady of his childhood. 

“ Michael, beware of girls — with naughty 
curls,” rimed Daddy Gail ; but Michael was 
impervious. He had not learned how to 
blush. Britten pondered the picture inci- 
dent and wondered. Could it be that, in 
spite of all Mai’s tales and teachings, there 
was dawning within Michael a dim sense of 
right and wrong, and that his conscience 
was awakening? * 

Two weeks later, in a furrier’s office in 
Sixth Avenue, Michael opened a double- 
combination safe with all the neatness and 
aplomb of a veteran. So his nerve wasn’t 
impaired, at any rate. Britten gave up the 
riddle. Michael was — just Michael. 

It was in the fifth summer of Michael’s 
life in New York that Daddy’s prophecy 
against the automobile came true with 
crushing force. 

Summer residences were a specialty with 
Mai. Did the news appear in the society 
columns that Mr. and Mrs. Goodspender 
had closed their palatial manor at Yonkers 
for a few weeks, while they enjoyed a trip 
to the mountains or shore, that residence 
stood a good chance of receiving a noc- 
turnal trio who laughed at locksmiths and 
who converted massy family plate into lu- 
crative nuggets. 

At such a place — a villa near Irvington 
— ill-luck swooped one night upon the three 
companions. They found the grounds in 
charge of a watchman, an old fellow, whom 
Clink disposed of easily by tying him elbow 
and knee and throwing him, gagged, across 
the bed in his cottage near the rear of the 
grounds. 

It so happened that the watchman owned 
a friend, a garrulous body, who was wont 
often to slip across lots and sit half the 
night with his crony over a jug of stale ale. 
As fate willed it, he chose this night for a 
visit, found his gossip in a' predicament; 
and, not daring to stop even long enough to 


cut the bonds, set off for town as fast as 
his shaking old legs could toddle. 

So it fell out that, as the three motor 
pirates left the grounds, carrying a bag of 
plate of fabulous thickness, and w r ent out 
into the moonlit roadway, six men of the 
town constabulary, accompanied by a few 
of the boldest spirits among the townsmen, 
charged nobly down the road with a thin 
cheer and a prodigious letting-off of fire- 
arms. 

Britten had left his automobile behind a 
clump of trees at the side of the road some 
distance from the house. While he and 
Clink opened fire in an attempt to hold 
back the attacking party, he sent Michael 
to run on ahead and start the machine. 

Michael reached the car without mishap 
and stowed the bag .of plate under the seat. 
He then started the engine and backed the 
automobile out into the road. Mai and 
Clink, who had taken cover in a thicket of 
bush, made a dash for it. 

In the running fight that followed, Clink 
was grassed with a bullet through his left 
shoulder. Britten felt his hat leap from his 
head ; but he stopped and stood firm beside 
his fallen henchman. 

“ Seems I’ve always got to be th’ goat of 
th’ occasion,” groaned Clink, as he tried 
weakly to stagger to his feet. “ Where’s 
Mike?” 

Strong arms that caught him around the 
middle, answered the question. Leaving 
the car in the road, its engine purring, 
Michael, heedless of danger, had come back 
to the aid of his pals. He swung Clink up 
in his arms. 

While Britten kept up a rear-guard ac- 
tion with two revolvers, Michael carried 
Clink to the machine. In another minute 
all three had clambered aboard and, with 
Michael driving, were under way in the 
thick of a parting fusillade from their 
balked pursuers. 

Clink, cursing with pain, struck his foot 
against the bag of plate, and it heartened 
him. 

“ Damn their pictures! ” he growled. 
“ We’ve got th’ swag on ’em, anyhow. 
Drive her like hell, Mike!” 

And Michael did so. 

Britten, examining two neat round holes 


LITTLE CROOKED MASTER. 


347 


in his soft hat, speculated as to what the 
sensation would have been had the bullet 
gone three inches lower. 

Ill-luck was not finished with the fugi- 
tives. A bullet had punctured the gas-tank 
of the car, and at Kingsbridge they were 
forced to abandon it, a flaming ruin. Brit- 
ten thoughtfully removed his license plate 
and threw it into the river. Before they 
encountered police, fortune relented enough 
to send their way a night-hawking taxi- 
driver, who took them aboard, Michael still 
clinging to the sack of loot. They were 
set down a few blocks from their own neigh- 
borhood. 

Mai dared not be driven any nearer. 
Long before that, he knew, the telephone 
wires had been singing from Irvington. 
That song, coupled with the abandoned 


wreck of his car and the tale that the taxi 
chauffeur could tell, would make all too 
wide a trail as it was. 

They reached Gail’s Jail at last on foot, 
weary and anxious, Michael carrying the 
booty under his arm and Britten assisting 
Clink, who stifled a groan at every step, 
from the pain of his wounded shoulder. 
Mai dared not run the risks of summoning 
a doctor; so he bandaged the wound as 
best he could, and Clink was hidden in the 
Catacomb, to lie there until it should be 
thought safe to fetch medical aid to him. 

To the Catacomb too Michael carried 
the bag of stolen plate and set it clinking 
down. 

“ Bad luck — devil’s truck,” chanted 
Daddy Gail. “ We’ll melt that down to- 
morrow night.” 


TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK. Don’t forget this magazine is issued weekly, and 
that you will get the continuation of this story without waiting a month. 

u u u 

LOVE’S EYES 

BY MELBA PARKER 


I LOVED you, but I went away— 
* My boy heart longed to roam. 
The far lands held so mystic much; 
Things were so old at home. 

And yet, no matter where I turned, 
My thoughts fled back to you. 
Your eyes were all that I could see 
In Adriatic’s blue. 


Sleep flowers of Khan were like your lips, 
Koyukuk gold, your hair. 

I saw your cheeks in cherry blooms 
In Nippon everywhere.' 


The tinkle of Shonhaikwan bells 
At twilight was your laugh; 

The ivory of Dar Banda 
Was not as white by half. 

And so at last I turned me back — 
What use was there to roam? 
For all the beauties of the earth 
Were there with you at home. 



V— WINGS AGAINST THE CAVE WALLS 


W AH and Ga were the world’s first 
lovers. And love, even in its ini- 
tiatory venture, was showing some 
of the traits which have characterized it 
ever since. Already, the lovers were in an 
ecstatic state of conflict, a conflict that was 
primarily within themselves, but which was 
beginning to manifest itself in their actions 
relative to each other. 

In their daily foraging for food, as in 
their rough play and crude games, Wah and 
Ga were the best of pals, and being beset by 
infinitely fewer complications, their love 
ran smoother than do most loves of to-day. 
Yet she would not voluntarily go to his cave 
and live there; which was equivalent to a 
marriage ceremony. And Wah had learned 
by experience that something in him re- 
volted against following the custom of his 
fathers and forcirtg Ga to become his mate. 
Still he could not understand her attitude, 
for she spent all of her waking hours with 
him and preferred him and his company to 
any of the other young males. 

On the ether hand, Ga could not explain 
to Wah- — the People had no spoken lan- 
guage. She could not tell him of the strange 
yearnings that she felt in the gloom of her 
cave, nor of how the damp walls seemed 
to press in upon her. She could not, even 
in her own mind, formulate the meaning of 

148 


this vague unrest. In short, Ga had come 
to loathe the caves and dream dim dreams 
of life with Wah under more tolerable con- 
ditions. What conditions, she did not know. 
At any rate, she was not content to be- 
come his mate in a cave. 

It was early afternoon. A westering sun 
still warmed the young earth. The People, 
trooping back to their caves, from a day’s 
foraging in the Deep Forest, came in groups 
of twos and threes, their long arms dangling 
awkwardly, their short, stringy legs seem- 
ing to bend under the weight of their pow- 
erful bodies. They reached the little basin 
below their caves and the older ones 
squatted about on the ground, resting and 
watching the younger ones and the children 
at their awkward play. As a rule, Wah and 
Ga were the most lively of all the grown- 
ups in these frolics. But on this after- 
noon, they sat moodily apart from the 
others and also from each other, taking lit- 
tle notice of the rough sport. 

For a while, Wah sat with his back to 
the north wall of the little basin, a tall peak 
towering above him, a tapering, steep- 
walled column of dry lava that reached more 
than two hundred feet into the azure blue. 
Diagonally across from him Ga leaned 
moodily against the cliff, apparently obliv- 
ious to everything around her. Down near 


THE PEOPLE OF THE GLACIER. 


349 


the edge of the Big Water, Zel, a stringy, 
short-legged, flat-breasted young female of 
the People, was romping and squeaking with 
all the vigor and energy that any cave man 
could desire in a mate. 

Suddenly, it came to Wah that were it 
any other female than Ga whom he wanted 
he would take her by force. He knew, for 
instance, that he would not hesitate to 
knock Zel over the head and take her to 
his cave. And he knew, also, that once 
taken to his cave, Zel would remain there, 
unquestioning, obedient. Then why not 
take Zel and satisfy his longing for a mate? 
It would be a logical, if a cold-blooded way 
to settle the matter. Wah did not rea- 
son thus clearly, but in some vague way he 
reached a similar conclusion. 

When ideas came to Wah, his system was 
to try them and learn the consequences 
thereof. Argument, debate and considera- 
tion were no part of his mental equipment. 
He rose and walked down to the beach, 
where Zel was running around in circles, 
playing some game with a number of other 
youngsters. Wah stood at the edge of the 
circle till Zel came opposite him. He did 
not strike her down as many of his brothers 
would have done in his place. Wah was 
in a way humane. He reached out with one 
powerful arm and curved it securely about 
the cave girl’s waist, just as she was about 
to run by him. 

Zel came to a sudden stop, perforce, and 
squealed in surprise. But even as she cried 
out, Wah threw her across his shoulder and 
started with her toward the base of the cliff. 
The People were startled out of their stolid- 
ity. Not because of the action. That was 
customary. But because it was Wah who 
committed the act. By reason of visionary 
association, the People had come to link 
Wah and Ga together, and for some reason, 
the meaning of which they had not the 
slightest inkling, they had set these two 
apart from themselves and all others. 

Wah reached the base of the cliff, but 
before he even began to climb, there came 
a vicious shriek. He glanced around and 
had a vision of flying red hair and the next 
instant Ga pounced upon him and his bur- 
den. All three of them, they fell to the 
ground in a tangled, scratching, screeching 


heap. Although she was not yet ready to 
mate with Wah, Ga was not one to stand 
idly by and see him mate with another. 
Along with her unusual intelligence had 
come a certain amount of will and a some- 
what energetic personality. Wherefore, she 
followed the dictates of her very primitive 
mind and proceeded to interfere vigorously 
with Wah’s intentions. 

Wah was the first to disentangle himself 
from the writhing, scrambling mass of hu- 
manity. And because he was Wah and not 
an average man of his time, he undertook 
to separate the two females. Or rather to 
assist Zel in the escape she was so ardently 
trying to make. For in reality, Ga was the 
only belligerent member of the trio. Wah 
succeeded, after being severely scratched 
himself, in separating the two. Zel immedi- 
ately took herself to a safe distance as fast 
as she could propel her short, stringy legs. 
She was somewhat marked and disheveled. 
Moreover, she had missed becoming the 
mate of Wah. Still, she wasted no time in 
futile regrets, but soon joined in the play 
from whence Wah had snatched her. 

On the other hand, Ga by no means 
passed over the episode so lightly. As soon 
as the wrangle had subsided, Wah felt it in- 
cumbent upon himself to make a peace 
offering. It was then that Ga showed her 
femininity. She had fought and was still 
willing to fight, to keep Wah for herself. 
But now that she had him all to herself 
and repentant, she would have none of him. 

Scarcely had Wah begun to chatter con- 
ciliatingly, in what he intended to be soft 
tones, and started toward Ga, when she 
tossed her head indignantly and moved 
away. Then when Wah quickened his pace, 
she ran. And having considerable will of 
his own, Wah ran after her, determined to 
pacify her. Ga ran toward the beach, and 
when she came to the edge of the Big 
Water, because Wah was on the south side 
of her and she could not run that way with- 
out going toward him, she ran out into the 
water, turned north and passed around an 
outjutting point of the cliff. 

Ga was the first who had been north of 
this point since that eventful day when the 
People, running from the Great Cold, passed 
it and came into the little basin and found 


350 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


their new caves. It required but a few mo- 
ments for Ga to pass beyond that part of 
the cliff which bulged out into the water. 
Then she turned out on the sandy beach 
which was here considerably broader than 
in front of the caves. Almost as soon as 
she reached the sand, she looked back and 
saw Wah rounding the point, but a short 
distance behind, her. 

By this time, it had become a sort of 
game between them. Ga determined to 
shake off Wah, to leave him behind, to 
make him quit; although she w’ould have 
despised him could she have done either. On 
the other hand, Wah was equally deter- 
mined to overtake Ga. Just what he would 
do with her, he himself was not sure. How- 
ever, he intended no harm or rough usage. 
He had started out in a repentant mood, 
but that had given away to the spirit of the 
contest which was now on between them. 

On the spur of the moment, Ga decided 
to climb the cliff that was here a part of the 
base of the tall peak which rose from the 
ridge above. Between her and the cliff, 
set about on the beach like gigantic saucers, 
were a number of great prehistoric shells; 
some of them eight or ten feet long and five 
or six feet broad and in the middle, at least 
two feet deep. So that when they lay on 
the beach, inside up, the pink and white of 
them sheeny, satiny, showed like the bath- 
ing pool of some fairy princess; and they 
were filled with water from recent rain. 

In making her way toward the cliff, Ga 
stepped on the edge of one of the shells, it 
rocked, threw her off her balance and she 
plunged into it, slipped and sloshed around 
and was thoroughly wet. However, the 
water was not cold— -it had been warmed 
by the sun. Still Ga was in no mood for a 
bath. She scrambled to her feet, clambered 
out of the shell and hurried on toward the 
cliff. 

Ga was just far enough up the face of 
the cliff to be out of Wah ’s' reach when 
he arrived at the base. For a few moments 
she tried to outclimb him, but seeing that 
he was rapidly gaining on her, she stopped 
and waited, standing on the nub - of a 
boulder, holding with both hands to a ledge 
above. 

Apparently, she had given up and only 


waited for Wah to overtake her. But when 
his head was just a little above the level of 
her feet, she swung away from him, like a 
pendulum, and still holding to the ledge 
above with her hands, swung back, planted 
both feet against his shoulders with the full 
weight of her moving body. The blow tore 
Wah loose from his holds and he fell to the 
ground. Then Ga hurried up the cliff at her 
best gait. 

By the time Wah had started again to 
climb the cliff Ga had reached the top, and 
crawled over onto a broad shoulder which 
spread between the edge of the cliff and the 
tall peak. Here she rested for a few mo- 
ments, then looking over the edge of the 
cliff, saw Wah more than half-way up. 
Once more, the spirit of the game possessed 
her and she ran around to the other side of 
the tall peak, desiring to . lead Wah on a 
chase, rather than to shove him back to 
the ground, as she might easily have done 
from her position on the brink of the cliff 
above him. 

Wah finished his climb and looked around 
for Ga. Not seeing her, he started to circle 
around the massive pillar of lava. Just as 
he rounded the eastern side of the peak he 
had a glimpse of Ga, who had seen him and 
started running back to the west side. Sev- 
eral times they ran around and around, 
making the complete circle of the peak. 
And all the time Wah was gaining on Ga, 
till at last there was only a few yards be- 
tween them. 

Then in a reckless fit of daring, Ga de- 
cided to climb up the peak itself. There 
were many holes, crevices and rough hand- 
holds to be had in the exterior lava. Ga 
jumped for one of these and almost in- 
stantly swung herself out of Wah’s reach. 
Then she looked down at him and squeaked 
gleefully, exhilarated by the thrill of her 
own daring 

A new obsession, a new phase of the 
game had taken hold of her. She would 
test him, she would see if he dared to follow 
up the perpendicular wall of the peak. One 
side of her wanted to outdo him, do that 
which he would not dare to do. And yet 
another side of her cried out the hope that 
he would come on, that he would even sur- 
pass her efforts. Ga did not think these 


THE PEOPLE OF THE GLACIER. 


351 


things. She merely answered to the veer of 
impulse, as a ship answers to its rudder. 

Without the slightest hesitation, Wah fol- 
lowed Ga up the peak. When they first 
left the ground, they had been on the west 
side of the peak, but as they worked their 
way upward, following the easiest hand- 
holds and foot-holds, they gradually came 
diagonally around to the south side. By 
this time, they had gone about fifty feet up 
the peak and this added to the distance 
from the bottom of the basin up to the 
top of the ridge, made Wah and Ga, alto- 
gether, between eighty and ninety feet 
above the People, who stood in the basin 
below and gaped up at these two open- 
mouthed. 

Ga looked down and experienced a sud- 
den feeling of panic. She became sick and 
weak; she grasped hold of the lava with her 
hands so tightly that it hurt. The People, 
far below there, looked, to her, less than 
half their natural size. For a moment, she 
felt that she would turn loose and fall down 
amongst them in spite of herself. Then she 
turned her head resolutely away, looked up- 
ward and learned that as long as she did not 
look down, she could climb with compara- 
tive assurance. 

Meantime, Wah had looked down also, 
and had been disturbed by the same experi- 
ence. So that, he, too, kept his eyes up and 
followed after Ga. But the climbing was 
difficult and required infinite care and at- 
tention. The situation had shifted from a 
chase to a contest of nerve endurance. Ga 
and Wah had nothing to do with this shift, 
of course. It was a natural consequence. 
Nevertheless, each one was striving now 
for the sole purpose of making the other 
quit, of climbing higher than the other 
dared to go. 

Naturally, Wah had the advantage in 
this. For his sole aim was to outdo Ga. 
His mind and all of his energy was set and 
centered on that one object, while Ga’s 
faculties were split and her desire di- 
vided between the wish to outdo Wah and 
the hope that he would prove to be her su- 
perior. There is no possible analysis to fit 
this condition, no logic and no reason will 
explain it. It stands alone, an irrefutable, 
illogical truth. 


As Wah followed doggedly up and Ga 
continued to climb, to ever more dizzy 
heights, the afternoon sun, which was still 
an hour high, showed them to the People 
below, like climbing ants. Once Wah was 
almost startled into loosening his holds. 
Just as he raised his head above the level 
of a rather deep cleft in the lava, a large 
snake thrust out its slender, black head and 
struck, venomously. But in its anger and 
excitement, the snake missed Wah’s head 
and its own head and a part of its body 
passed over the caveman’s shoulder. In- 
stantly, Wah let go with one hand and 
struck a blow to ward the snake off. 

His hand closed over the glossy, black 
body and he gave a sharp, downward tug, 
pulling many feet of the snake out of the 
cleft. In fact, Wah pulled so much of the 
snake’s body out of its lair that it went 
hurtling, squirming and hissing down the 
face of the peak, unable to check its own 
descent. Nor did it stop until it landed 
among the frightened, amazed People in the 
basin below. 

While Wah had been deterred by his en- 
counter with the snake, Ga had gotten far 
ahead of him and having found a deep de- 
clivity in the sheer wall of lava, she crawled 
in and seated herself for a rest. 

When Wah had climbed to just a few feet 
below the recess wherein Ga sat swinging 
her legs, the cave girl suddenly wriggled 
out of her seat, kicking and screeching and 
slapping while she supported herself by one 
hand in a most precarious and dangerous 
manner. Wah was both surprised and 
frightened and hurriedly scrambled to one 
side lest Ga strike him in her wild descent 
and knock him loose from his holds. 

They were still on the south side of the 
peak and considerably more than a hun- 
dred feet above the basin and the People. 
But to have seen Ga scrambling down the 
sheer wall of lava, careless and forgetful of 
distance, one would have thought that she 
was not ten feet above the ground. 

Wah, of course, could not understand 
what had excited Ga to such an extent, or 
why she slapped and screeched in such ter- 
ror. The swarm of small, brown insects 
that hummed and buzzed about her angrily 
covering her shoulders, conveyed no mean- 


352 


ALL - STORY WEEKLY. 


ing to him. It was the first time that he, or 
any of the People, had come in contact with 
wild honey bees. Unthinking, Ga had dis- 
turbed a swarm of them which were hiv- 
ing in the declivity, where she stopped to 
rest. 

But as the cave girl hurried past Wah on 
her way down, a number of the angry, buzz- 
ing bees settled on him. Wah immediately 
decided that there was a fire up above and 
that these were small sparks falling on him. 
He understood now why Ga was in such a 
hurry. Often sparks from the fires he built 
had popped on him and they felt exactly as 
these things did. However, Wah’s first idea 
was soon dismissed as he learned that he 
was dealing with something alive, with some 
kind of beings that could direct an attack. 
And the more he fought them, the more 
they crowded onto him. 

The People below in the basin, still watch- 
ing, were astounded at the wild, careless 
way in which the two youngsters scrambled 
down from their most dangerous position. 
However, they both retained presence of 
mind enough to hold on; and as they de- 
scended, they began to leave the bees be- 
hind. Then, after what must have been 
centuries to them, they reached the broad 
shoulder at the base of the peak, Ga some- 
what in the lead. Instantly, she rushed to 
the cliff facing the Big Water and began to 
scramble down to the beach, Wah following 
almost at her heels. 

As soon as Ga set foot on the beach, she 
began running around in circles and scratch- 
ing herself and screeching as if she were in- 
sane. And Wah was scarcely less frantic, 
although he expressed his misery in a differ- 
ent way. He lay down in . the sand and 
rolled over and over, sometimes stopping in 
his rolling to drive his fingers in the sand 
and pull himself forward, dragging on his 
breast and stomach, like a worm. But this 
afforded him about as little relief as did 
Ga’s running and scratching afford her. By 
this time, the numerous bee stings had 
raised great, red, burning welts on their 
heads, faces and shoulders. 

Then while Ga was running around, 
blindly, she accidentally stumbled against 
one of the massive shells filled with sun- 

(.The 


warmed rain water and fell headlong into 
it. The shell rolled a little on its oval back 
and some of the water was sloshed out. But 
still enough remained to cover Ga’s body as 
she .stretched out, full length. The warm, 
soft water, she found, gave her considerable 
relief. Presently, Wah, looking around, 
found that Ga was nowhere in sight. Then 
he stood up, scratching and clawing himself, 
and saw her lying in the shell. He was 
quick to perceive that she was in less 
misery there than anywhere else; so he, 
himself, immediately crawled into a shell 
full of water. 

The sun went down and the People, hav- 
ing lost sight of Wah and Ga, climbed into 
their caves. The long, autumn twilight 
grew dim. And still Wah and Ga lay in 
the great, pink and white shells, the water- 
soothing their burning, throbbing bodies. 
The stars came out and on account of the 
fear of night, the cave man and the cave 
girl crawled out of the soothing water. The 
night air chilled them and with the flat of 
their hands, they rubbed and pressed the 
water from their bodies, drying their heavy 
coats of hair. Their bodies still ached and 
throbbed from the poison of the many 
stings, but the burning pain had ceased. 

Ga was no longer angry nor jealous. She 
no longer wanted to avoid Wah, and Wah 
had forgotten that another female besides 
Ga existed. They turned, and together 
waded past the projecting point which sepa- 
rated them from the caves, walking side 
by side, his arm over her shoulder. 

When they came into the little basin, now 
silent and deserted, they stood for a moment 
on the beach, the water lapping softly at 
their ieet, a full, large moon bathing them 
in mellow light, while Wah’s arm was still 
around Ga’s shoulder. 

Suddenly he turned, drew close and laid 
his great, hairy lips to hers. The act was 
as original as the first dawn. Ga snuggled 
close to him for a moment; and in that mo- 
ment, they both knew that whatever might 
come, conflict between them personally was 
at an end. Then Ga snatched herself free, 
ran swiftly and silently to the base of the 
cliff, climbed rapidly to her cave and, with- 
out looking back, dashed in. 
end.) 



Douglas Dold 


CHAPTER I. 

A LEGACY OF VENGEANCE. 

T HEY were not thieves in any ordi- 
nary sense. They were commercial 
pirates who had stolen, under cover 
of seeming legality, enormous tracts of 
thickly timbered Georgia pine lands, below 
Atlanta, which should have enriched the 
State. 

But just as they had been about to reap 
a fruitful money harvest, the brilliant 
State’s attorney, Edward March, a restless, 
gifted man, who, it seemed, could never let 
well enough alone, had nosed out their 
carefully covered trail of illegalities; had 
started on the scent hot-breathed, eager as 
a bloodhound, and, like a hound, they had 
killed him. 

Not with their own hands, of course. 
The matter had been attended to by an 
underling. 

This underling had, not being as intelli- 
gent as they had thought him, left trails 
which might lead to themselves; unless the 
question of who murdered Edward March 
could be satisfactorily settled by the law- 
in quite another point of the compass. 

It had been so settled. The scapegoat se- 
lected to carry the irregularities of the three 
on his shoulders — or his neck, rather — to 
the gallows, was Charles Minturn. 

Minturn was a no-man’s-lander. He had 
done crooked things with the three. But he 
had never showed that whole-hearted un- 
morality which alone makes crime enjoy- 
able. He was not really a criminal— just 
as he was not really an honest man. 

3 A-S 


Considering his unplaced state of mind, 
he seemed an excellent sacrifice to the herd 
idea that the sheepish public must be pro- 
tected. 

So the three forged an intelligent chain 
of damnatory evidence around Minturn. A 
chain in which they, by their regretfully ex- 
pressed, but unshakable testimony, were the 
three strongest links. 

Not that there were any weak links in the 
chain. There weren’t. 

Minturn was not only accused by his 
heretofore apparently friendly associates 
and educators in dubious operations, but he 
was, through the free use of their money, 
railroaded to condemnation with such speed 
and such firm denial of appeals that popular 
clamor loudly applauded the court’s rapid 
“ justice, ”«and Minturn found himself on 
the edge of eternity. 

It was at this point that Robert Minturn, 
his only child, rushed home from an in- 
dustrial exploration expedition in Central 
America. 

There had been rumors of young Min- 
turn’s death. The three had hoped these 
rumors were exact. For, after their 
former colleague was properly hanged, it 
would be awkward to have his son knocking 
around the State, turning up now and then, 
reminding them, by his presence, of mat- 
ters they would prefer to forget. 

To their sincere annoyance Robert Min- 
turn arrived safely in their city. 

The eldest of the three discovered this, 
and asked the other two at once to have 
•dinner with him at his costly home. 

Stepney Gales, the dinner giver, had 


353 


354 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


generations of culture back of him. This 
culture had beautifully polished his scoun- 
drelly grandfathers whose ancestry ran into 
several titled houses, notorious for deli- 
cately done wickednesses. 

It was a regret to Gales that his two 
partners in swindling were coarse men, w r ho, 
although they frequented the best hotels, 
never learned any little elegancies. They 
really seemed to enjoy eating soup in such 
an auditory way that the sound frequently 
deeply irritated Stepney Gales. But they 
had an exceptional craft, an unreplaceably 
intelligent daring in predatory schemes 
which made them too valuable to discard. 

Dinner was over now r , and Gales had 
taken his two guests to his sound-proof li- 
brary, one of the few' walled spaces Gales 
ever trusted with confidences. 

As he sat smoking with his companions, 
Gales’s thin, aristocratic face showed palely 
through his cigarette smoke. He had a com- 
posed, intellectual look, tempered by a 
dreamy, smilingly tender mouth. His fin- 
gers w-ere long, soft, sympathetic; they ca- 
ressed you in shaking hands; his touch 
lingered pleasantly in one’s memory. 

Only his eyes, old with inherited wicked- 
nesses, dark, narrow, heavy lidded, watchful 
eyes, ever betrayed him, and that to sin- 
gularly few. 

Joyce Wilberforce, secretly engaged to 
Robert Minturn, was one of those few. But 
Joyce was Gales’s private secretary, and 
must either have distrusted or loved this 
magnetic-voiced, graceful aristocrat whose 
courtesy to her was always exquisite. 

Gales had a theory that deft compliments, 
euphemistic civilities, blind any woman, 
confuse her judgments. This theory had 
worked out wonderfully well through his 
life. But Joyce constituted an exception, 
and one so quietly self-poised that he never 
perceived he had failed with her. 

Had he know she was Robert Minturn’s 
fiancee he would have dismissed her, be- 
cause she would recall a disagreeable inci- 
dent. But he did not know it, and so 
Joyce stayed on. 

He found her competent and very lovely. 

But her loveliness showed no warmth. 
She seemed to him a little snow woman and 
he preferred this. He held it equally poor 


taste and poor judgment to have affairs 
with an employee, especially a confidential 
one. 

He wanted her to like him enough to 
rouse her loyalty; but as to flirting with her, 
he preferred women of whom he knew lit- 
tle, over whom he could cast the glow of 
his quite poetic imagination. 

He grew to trust her, and, as he found 
her as well-bred as himself,' occasionally re- 
marked viciously to her on the uncouth, 
clownish breeding of Weldon and Sedgwick, 
his associates. 

Now, as he sat eying these worthies, he 
felt no disposition to modify his past criti- 
cisms. 

Weldon was sucking crassly at his cigar. 
Buried in his florid, red-gold mustache was 
unnapkined debris from dinner. His big, 
red, vulgar, sunflower face had offensively 
coarse features. His scanty red-gold hair 
was oiled, he sprawled brutishly as he 
smoked. 

Gales found Sedgwick no better. He 
didn’t sprawl, but he was dressed in checks 
that howled to heaven for loudness, his lean 
leathery fingers desecrated several magnifi- 
cent diamond rings w y hich flashed from nude 
settings intended to be smart, but which 
were merely obscene. He smelt vilely of 
expensive, ill-chosen perfumes and his 
leathery, shrewd face had “ ringster ” writ- 
ten all over it. 

Sedgwick now grinned knowingly at 
Gales. 

“ What’s up, Gales? You never asked us 
here for pleasure only. We’re not popular 
with Mrs. Gales.” 

“ There’s no fooling you, Sedgwick. I 
brought you both here to say that Robert 
Minturn is not dead. He is back.” 

The others stopped smoking, abruptly. 

Gales pursued: 

“ Of course he can’t save his father— I 
suppose you realize that Charles Minturn, 
in these last hours of his, is pretty sure to 
set his son after us — it would be natural, 
you know.” 

The faces of Weldon and Sedgwick had 
hardened in unpleasant surprise over the 
news. Weldon growled: 

“ That’s a damned nuisance! But you 
ain’t thinking we orter — like Charles — ” 


IN THE WORDS OF SILENCE. 


355 


“ Not at all! Not at all! I was merely 
anxious to forewarn you. He could com- 
plicate things — so it’s best we carefully 
impress on him what a torture it was to us 
to witness against his father. We were sim- 
ply driven into it by conscience, of course. 

“ If he is rude, we must be patient with 
him, very patient. I would not, for worlds, 
be driven to the same measures with him 
that we were forced to use in regards to — 
Charles. Such — er — measures — should, as 
we’ve agreed, never be taken except where 
unusual, very unusual, circumstances make 
it imperative to use a man as — er— a shield. 

“ In the case of the son, as soon as he 
gets over his — I mean as soon as Charles is 
er — is gone — we can throw in the son ’s way 
some really brilliant, enticing offer that will 
bury him again in South America.” 

“ I get you,” Weldon grunted. Sedgwick 
nodded approval. 

They talked a little longer, then immersed 
themselves in a game of poker. Until 
nearly two they drank temperately, smoked 
inordinately and bet with imperturbability, 
burying in the game’s intensity all thought 
of the Shield, staring sleeplessly into the 
darkness of his last night, or of Robert Min- 
tum raging in vain frenzy up and down 
his hotel room. 

For, unfortunately, the father and son 
loved each other. All that was best in 
Minturn, the no-man’s-lander, jn Minturn 
neither wholly criminal or decent, went out 
to his boy. 

Charles Minturn was fifty-eight. To- 
morrow, the day on which he would die, 
was his son’s thirty-fourth birthday. 

For his years, Charles Minturn was sin- 
gularly young; a well-set-up, rather sol- 
dierly looking man who, until this treach- 
ery, had delighted passionately in life. It 
was his determination to enjoy which had 
drawn him, though imperfectly, into the 
swindles of the three. 

The trouble with Minturn was, he only 
wanted to steal when he needed money for 
pleasures. He did not love piracy as a 
game. So he made an inconsistent, unsatis- 
factory pirate and doomed himself to be a 
shield instead. To gain the loyalty of such 
confederates as his, a man must seek piracy 
and ensue it. 


Arrested in the midst of a burst of pleas- 
ures, forced by his former instructors to 
become an efficient cover for their doing to 
death of the obnoxious attorney, Minturn ’s 
heart boiled now with a hate of their smooth 
treachery. A hate that almost blurred his 
natural horror of his closely approaching, 
infamous doom. 

He had permitted his son only one in- 
terview for fear their mutual emotion might 
break down their courage. 

But that single agonizing scene would live 
with Robert forever. 

Father and son had met in the death 
cell, under the pitying eyes of the death- 
watch. 

Ignoring the latter, Minturn had, after 
the first natural outburst of despairing love 
between Robert and himself, forced his son 
into composure, and had used their flying 
moments to leave to Robert the legacy 
Gales had foreseen — vengeance. 

“ You’re way above the average in keen- 
ness, Bobbie,” Minturn said, in dreadful 
self-control. “ It’s for you to track ’em 
down— one by one. In the end you are 
bound to win because—” 

The agonized son, who had sternly ac- 
cepted the legacy, found himself asking 
dully, so certain was his father’s voice — 

“ Bound to win? Why?” 

Minturn had answered very simply, 
though in so low a tone the words escaped 
the death-watch: 

“ Because there will be some one there to 
help you.” 


CHAPTER II. 

f THE BEGINNING. 

C HARLES MINTURN was duly and 
properly hanged by the neck. His last 
moments were expertly watched by the 
newspaper representatives who were there 
to make copy out of his death, for the bene- 
fit of the public, which needs such horrors 
written up as a dramatic amusement. They 
searchingly focussed their attention on Min- 
tum in his prison stripes, as he walked 
slowly toward the swinging noose. 

These trained observers found themselves 
puzzled. This man, about to be strangled, 


356 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


carried neither fear nor courage in his face; 
his countenance was dominated, instead, by 
a grim, fixed expression of deliberate pur- 
pose. 

They had a confused feeling that instead 
of looking as a dying man should, he bore 
the appearance of one who was about to 
walk through death as through a gate — to 
some task beyond; a task on which every 
source of resolution in the man was unal- 
terably fixed. 

But, of course, they did not put down 
anything of this sort in the copy they turned 
in to their respective papers. They wrote 
Minium’s death up in the usual way, being 
dominated by a newspaper man’s natural 
disbelief in anything psychic. They did not 
even mention to each other the odd impres- 
sion Minturn had given them. 

That night the three read in the papers 
the well-headlined account of Minturn’s 
death. Apparently it had been anything 
but sensational. To their surprise Minturn 
had not denounced, on the scaffold, his be- 
trayers. He had not exerted his last breath 
in curses on them. 

They said to themselves, each in his own 
phraseology, that Minturn had died in good 
taste. The unostentatious fact that he had 
also died with no expression of forgiveness 
quite escaped them. 

But in the two weeks which followed 
Minturn’s death and burial, they certainly 
did not give his son credit for good taste. 

Although it was obvious he would remain 
a mark for morbid curiosity, as the son of 
a man recently hanged, Robert Minturn, 
after following his father’s coffin to the 
grave, remained in the city. 

Remained in spite of no less than three 
brilliant, tempting business offers made to 
him, in sequence, by the secret agents of 
the three. 

The aristocratic Gales complained, in 
great annoyance, of this to Welden one eve- 
ning, late, as the two were crossing a badly 
lighted side street. 

“ The fellow lacks a gentleman’s in- 
stincts,” Gales said, in keen disgust. “ I 
can’t understand him! I really must 
say — ” 

He broke off abruptly as a figure passed 
them in the shadows, a tall, soldierly built 


man who looked neither left nor right and 
promptly was swallowed up in the night. 

“ Who was that?” Gales demanded 
sharply. 

“ I d’no,” Welden grunted. Then added 
irrelevantly: “ That dark suit he had on 
kinder seemed, in this measly light, to have 
stripes on the pattern.” 

“ Why shouldn’t it? Plenty of men wear 
stripes,” Gales said, with a faint note of 
irritation. “ I didn’t give a damn about 
his suit— I just thought the fellow seemed 
familiar, yet I couldn’t place him.” 

“ Has he passed you before? Recently, 
I mean?” 

Gales hesitated, then: 

“ I think so. Several evenings ago.” 

“ Dark, like this?” 

“ No, in a theater foyer. I didn’t see his 
face, and I lost him almost the instant I 
saw him in the crowd. But I got the im- 
pression of — of some one I might have 
known. It annoyed me, because I always 
like to place people.” 

“ Same here! ” Weldon grunted. Then as 
they came into the brilliant lights of Peach- 
tree Street, he added: “ But such trifles 
ain’t worth puzzlin’ over.” 

They went over to Gales’s office and oc- 
cupied themselves, until nearly twelve, with 
a prospectus of some swamp lands which, 
as an irrigation prospect, seemed to offer 
opportunities for fleecing the public in such 
artistic phraseology as to prevent interfer- 
ence by so vexatious an institution as the 
Department of Justice. 

It was during their work on this that 
Sedgwick joined them. As usual he was so 
flashily dressed as to give Gales an actual 
pain. This style of garmenting, however, 
was so satisfactory to Sedgwick that he 
seldom bothered, as Gales did, about what 
other men had on. 

But to-night Gales, to his surprise, finally 
discovered that the eyes of Sedgwick, every 
now and then, were raised from the papers 
to gaze in an odd sort of way at Gales ’s quiet 
gray silk tie, ornamented with an equally 
quiet stickpin, whose head was a small ruby. 

At last Gales said impatiently, yet po- 
litely: 

“ Look here, Sedgwick, why are you star-i 
ing at my tie? Is it on crooked?” 


IN THE WORDS OF SILENCE. 


357 


Sedgwick had started slightly at the in- 
quiry. He answered sheepishly: 

“ Why, no! It ain’t on crooked. I — I 
just don’t like it.” 

“ The devil you don’t,” Gales sneered 
with a burst of irritation not common to 
his self-controlled personality. “ If I can 
stand your ways of parrot-colored decora- 
tion, you certainly can’t be annoyed with 
my simple tastes!” 

He had risen, as he spoke, and stalked 
over to a panel mirror, in which he often 
studied his clients’ faces without their 
knowing it. He glared at his tie. The soft 
gray silk was marked by faint stripes of 
black, and on the stripes the little ruby 
shone, like a solitary drop of blood. 

Sedgwick had also risen and now came 
up to him. 

“ I didn’t mean any reflection,” he said 
uneasily. “ Truth is, I reckon I need 
some glasses. Those stripes in your tie 
looked like they were movin’, and that ruby 
kinder seemed like a little old drop of 
blood squeezed out of ’em. You see that’s 
why I like bright colors; you don’t get those 
queer effects.” 

Gales laughed shortly and stalked back 
to the table. 

“ Better see an oculist to-morrow,” he 
counseled. 

B.ut that night, when he undressed, he 
flung the tie impatiently in his waste-basket. 


CHAPTER III. 

A VISIT. 

I F at the beginning of the two weeks which 
had now elapsed since his father’s dread- 
ful death, Robert Mintum had tried 
to foretell what those weeks would be, he 
would have dully declared he saw before 
him only horror unalloyed. 

But the most intolerable situation often 
reveals, in its surfacely frightful heart, a 
point of such assuaging sweetness that the 
shaken spirit takes new courage toward 
life. 

For three days after the execution, Rob- 
ert Mintum lay in his rooms, which had 
been his father’s, wrapped by a half-stunned 
misery. 


This house had belonged to Charles Min- 
tum. Through his turbulent widowerhood 
it had seen feverish gaieties. There was no 
gaiety now. Nor any of the parasites who 
had once spent Charles Minturn’s money. 

Only the wretched and sickened son lay 
there, in the room next the one his father 
had especially used. 

Robert Minturn had not eaten since the 
hanging three days ago, though he had 
drunk a great deal of cold water. Hunger 
would come back to him, of course. But 
thought of food was still loathsome. 

He had not been out of doors since the 
funeral. He had not voluntarily talked to 
Joyce over the phone more than for a brief 
declaration to her that he v T as now out of 
her life permanently; that she must not call 
him up again. If she did he would not 
answer. 

After this she had tried twice to get him, 
and twice had met with his sternly insis- 
tent rebuke that she might have the decency 
to be thankful he was saving her from shar- 
ing an unspeakable ignominy. After which 
he had abruptly cut her off — the last time 
warning her he wouldn’t again answer the 
phone. 

Now, the night of the third day he lay 
staring up at the ceiling in a chaos of de- 
spairing horror and of helpless hate toward 
the dominant Three who walked so suc- 
cessfully through life. 

It verged on midnight. But he took no 
thought of hours; because each one was as 
long, as hideous as the one before. 

His windows were open, the night being 
warm. Some drunken diners went lurching 
past. Their tipsy songs, screeching in 
broken keys of maudlin satisfaction, were 
horrible to his ears. 

In the next room, his father’s room, the 
bed was flush with his against the dividing 
wall. On that unseen bed, something sud- 
denly yet quietly stirred, vibrating through 
the heavy wall. 

It was a vitally pregnant vibration, as 
though that dumb product of nature, mere 
wood, had been informed with life. A dis- 
tinct sense of shock ran through Robert 
Mintum. He sat up; what could be stirring 
in that jealously locked room? 

Astounded, he pressed his nervous hands 


358 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


against the wall; the pulse seemed beating 
into his own, so gently that it lessened 
greatly the sequent terror bred by the sound 
of a hoarse whisper, a difficult, strange 
whisper that made his hair slowly stir with 
that uncomplying terror we have of the 
dead, or those we call dead. 

Unnatural as the whisper sounded, plain- 
ly as its hoarseness indicated a dreadful 
reminiscence of the strangling noose by 
which Charles Minturn had died, the sound 
sent new life into the unhappy son, even 
through the unavoidable fear bred at first 
by this communication. 

The whisper might not have been a whis- 
per. He did not know whether it was ac- 
tual sound or an interpenetrating of his own 
consciousness by a realism in which words 
were not needed. 

But whether or not the words could have 
been heard by anyone else, Robert Minturn 
heard them: 

“ I promised, you there should be — some 
one to help you in — breaking them. It 
wasn’t easy to come to you — jar harder — 
than — I thought it would be — ” 

As though this cost a singular effort, the 
voice faltered, then began again: 

“ These — over here — let me come — let 
me — have words — this once — that 1 might 
save you from — the legacy— -I lejt you — 
not justly yours. 1 — ” 

Again it faltered with its strangely pain- 
ful effort; its laboring, titanic effort. 

Then, while the son’s heart almost stood 
still with listening the message, in uncon- 
querable tenacity, began again. 

“ Not yours the task ahead — not yours — 
but mine — given to me — over here — as it is, 
I find, always given — to the seduced — the 
betrayed. By all that is holy I implore — 
I command you — leave those Three alone 
— a bsolutely — alone — ” 

The whisper came no longer. The 
charged, tense, arresting atmosphere grew 
normal. The stirred hair of the gasping 
listener matted against his skull once more; 
then the apparent stoppage of his heart 
changed to a swift, tumultuous, exultant 
beat. 

For at the whisper’s cessation Robert 
Minturn’s fear had vanished. A wonder- 
ful flood of emotions rushed through him. 


He had never thought about personal 
survival. He had accepted, with the easy 
philosophy of one who has never lost, the 
true saying that “ Death ends all.” 

When his father was so ignominiously 
executed, Robert Minturn conceived, as 
part of the whole hideous affair, that the 
elder Minturn was now only a shocking 
memory, on which men would mentally spit. 

Naturally, then, his first hint of a sur- 
viving consciousness in the man so fright- 
fully betrayed had come as an astounding, 
terrifying thing. A strengthening wonder 
took fear’s place, a healing, revivifying won- 
der. 

His father lived! The grave had done 
its loathsome worst, and yet — his father 
lived. Life then, was greater than treach- 
ery, greater than despair. 

An hour longer he lay listening patiently. 
No further message came; but at the hour’s 
end he experienced his first sensation of 
hunger. He went to the kitchen, found 
enough for a meal, and ate, with pleasure 
in the act. 

An intense belief in the power behind that 
whisper filled him; an unreasoning, exqui- 
sitely comforting belief; not in the least 
justified by life as Robert had hitherto 
known it. 

And certainly the Three were just then 
playing, drinking, smoking, betting, in all 
the carefully guarded security of their 
triple, acute intelligence. 

His meal finished, Robert went to bed 
again and slept soundly. This was Satur- 
day night. He did not wake until nine 
Sunday morning, and then only because 
some one was knocking at his bedroom 
door. 

The front door of the pretty suburban 
cottage had been left unlocked. Who 
would trouble the house of the hanged man? 
Yet it seemed some one had come. 

He rose, flung a dressing gown over his 
pajamas and quietly opened his door. As 
quickly, Joyce walked into the room. 

As he gazed at her in amazement,' her 
darkly blue eyes, tender and serious, met 
his. She smiled at him unaffectedly, and 
said gently, as heedless of the tumbled bed- 
room as though it were a parlor: 

“ Good morning!” 


IN THE WORDS OF SILENCE. 


“ Joyce — my God — you were mad to 
come here— alone, too!” 

She rested a small, gloved hand on a chair 
back. 

“ I should have been worse than mad not 
to have come. Must I be one of those who 
in the presence of great hours think only of 
petty things? Oh, Rob — how petty you 
have been with met” 

“Petty!” he clutched at the breast of 
the heavy robe swathing his well-set-up, 
muscular figure. His hurt, his indignation 
blazed at the word petty! 

“ Because I’ve been brave enough to 
give you up? Decent enough to save you 
from ruinous disgrace? If I had loved you 
in any common way, I’d have let you marry 
me — me ‘ the murderer’s son ’ — the man 
whose father — And you call it — petty! ” 
She answered quietly: 

“ I do indeed, Rob. For little loves 
there are little ways, which is all right. But 
for such love as yours and mine there can be 
no disgrace, unless we do something low our- 
selves. 

“ It was part of my passion for you that 
my body loves you. But it is far more part 
of my love that my soul loves yours. If we 
had been friends, not lovers, I should have 
come to you. Being lovers, soon to be mar- 
ried, I had a double right to be here, be- 
cause I couldn’t get at you any other way. 

“ I have come unseen, without damage to 
my name. But if you insist on breaking 
with me, I’ll come to you again. And when 
I do I shall have taken pains to call myself 
publicly what you know I am not. So, 
if that’s the only way we can be on common 
ground, I’ll come to you shorn of reputa- 
tion — because if I am to fail you for my 
mere reputation’s sake, it shall go.” 

Robert Minturn fell back a step from 
her. . The waters of a tide so sweet he could 
hardly bear its laving exultation, flooded his 
soul. 

“ Joyce — Joyce — ” he cried brokenly. 
“ Oh, life is more splendid than the horrors 
in it — greater than — ” 

“ Then you will come to see me again? 
Just as before?” 

“ Yes— yes — anything you say — Oh, 
Joyce—” 

She smiled again, almost whimsically, as 


35 * 

though to check his emotion, and was gone, 
closing the door softly behind her, 

CHAPTER IV. 

A MESSAGE FROM CHARLES MINTURN. 

W HEN the hands of Robert Minium’s 
clock reached 10:45 that same Sun- 
day, Mr. Wesley Weldon went to 
church. He frequently did. He regarded the 
practice of religious ceremonies much as he 
had regarded Minturn ’s death — as a shield. 
The more one went to church the less the 
public worried about one’s record. 

Besides, the pew he scrupulously paid for 
was a comfortably cushioned spot in which 
to think out new schemes for dividend- 
bearing illegalities. 

He found the dim, colored light, the 
pleasant monotone of the minister, or the 
music of the choir, at once mentally sooth- 
ing and stimulating. He seldom heard any 
words; if a few, owing to a break in his 
thoughts, got in, he easily dismissed them, 
as one does an importunate beggar. 

There was another advantage in church- 
going. His wife was shrewish. At home 
she annoyed him. But in church she 
couldn’t. 

So, to-day, as he sat there, his thoughts 
topk steady shape. 

“ The man we need on that prospectus 
is Quint Liewell. He’ll paint the swamp up 
until the boobs, with their stocking stores 
of money will fall for it. 

“ And being an irrigation scheme, a little 
water on the lands is easy to explain — 
delay in ditching — labor conditions — the 
war. Later, under these same war condi- 
tions, the comp’ny can fail, just as natural 
and — ” 

From the altar the fastidiously fragrant 
breath of lilies drifted, across the quiet air, 
mingling with the pastor’s steady voice. 

“ — and though we ought, at all times 
humbly to acknowledge our sins before God, 
yet ought we chiefly so to do when we as- 
semble and meet together — ” 

Absently, Weldon thrust the words aside 
and pursued his thoughts: 

“ After Liewell ’s done that prospectus, 
we’ll get a first-rate criminal lawyer to go 


360 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


through it carefully. We don’t want to be 
bothered with any more State attorneys — ” 
One of the church windows, or else a 
door, was open. A wandering errant breeze 
was flowing through. It stirred the Ameri- 
can flag which the minister had loyally 
draped not far from the altar. 

Faintly the soft breeze moved the silken 
colors. The voice of the minister was read- 
ing the litany. Stirred by private suffer- 
ings of his own, his voice rose in almost 
passionate imploration: 

“ Oh, God, the Father of Heaven, have 
mercy upon us, miserable sinners — ” 
Weldon pondered over a choice of law- 
yers. Glassfield might do. 

Glassfield had been strikingly successful 
in watching over the illegalities of Wolfern, 
of Cateran, of Stokes & Co., and they had, 
untroubled, put over schemes which had 
drained their especial section of the public 
bone-dry. 

For a second now the wailing litany 
caught at his consciousness. 

Remember not, Lord, our offenses — ” 
With a scarcely conscious effort he thrust 
the words aside. The only objection to 
Glassfield was, he charged so much— 

Still, it might be a paying proposition to 
give a man like that what he demanded. 
After all it was a question of “ safety first ” 
— he, Weldon, had always looked thorough- 
ly to his own safety, and he reflected on this 
with a pleased smile, even though he was 
aware of being annoyed by the unusual 
forcefulness in the young minister’s trou- 
bled, imploring voice: 

“ From all blindness of heart, from pride, 
vainglory and hypocrisy, malice and all 
uncharitableness — ” the voice flowed into 
his ears. It was followed by the minor- 
keyed cry of the congregation: 

“Good Lord, deliver us!" 

Angrily Weldon shook the superstitious 
nonsense off. Why the devil didn’t the fool 
keep his hysterical voice down? 

Of course, instead of Glassfield they could 
hire young Quest, he was sharp as a needle, 
that fellow Quest — 

“ From lightning," the passionate voice 
pleaded on, “ and tempest, from plague, 
pestilence and famine, from battle, murder 
and—" 


Damn this new man’s voice! How if 
drove in and bothered a busy man. What 
sense was in it? Murder? What the heck 
was he gabbling about now? Murder — 
Who had murdered any one? Self-protec- 
tion — that wasn’t murder — That — 

The current of his thoughts were changed 
by the lily-fragranced drift of air. It was 
so cold, that air. It began to lay chill 
touches on him like queer, impalpable 
fingers, a silly fancy. So he shook the idea 
off, and impatiently stared at the altar 
and its surroundings. 

The light that shafted down went gray, 
burying itself in the undulating insinuating 
flowing of what — stripes? Stripes, the ar- 
resting sickening prison stripes— in a church 
— where a man went for comfort? For 
comfort, and was startled, annoyed, insulted 
by a damnable decoration of crawling, ten- 
tacular prison stripes, in — no — that hellish, 
silken thing had bars — bars that a whitely 
yellow face pressed against, bars that — 

His eyes suddenly cleared from the 
blurring gray. It was only the flag! Just 
the flag — the normal, quiet thing he had 
passed so often; why, it was as harmless 
as a church; usual, every-day, negligible 
as a church. 

He grinned savagely at his own annoying 
interlude of now quite-past fancy. 

Leisurely, his eyes left the flag, left the 
white, cold, shining cross and wandered to 
a very lovely young girl, scarcely grown, in 
the pew ahead. 

Her face had a charmingly infantile, 
dancing beauty. She was so harmless, so 
childishly lovely he felt a sense of relief 
in her as a safe point of vision. 

His eyes fell to her girlish shoulders. 
These shoulders, so prettily curved, were 
modestly clothed in a new blue organdy 
through which ran wide stripes of pink; a 
rose-starred pink; but, as Weldon stared, 
the color ran, or seemed to run, into scar-, 
let; as if dull prison stripes were soaked in 
blood. 

Convulsively his gaze took refuge on his 
wife’s dark-purple silk gown. 

Around Mrs. Weldon’s throat a gray silk 
neck ribbon lay, a fashion of the hour, in- 
nocuous enough. 

But as he looked the ribbon, very, very 


IN THE WORDS OF SILENCE. 


3B1 


slowly, began to slip upward, tightening in a 
noose — a hangman’s noose that— 

Startled out of all repression, he leaned 
quickly toward her: 

“ Kate, look out! It’s — ” 

The shrewish temper of Mrs. Weldon 
blazed up instantly at the indecorum of his 
loud whisper. 

In the soft religious light, she turned a 
snarling look on him and hissed: 

“You fool! Be quiet, can’t you?” 

As she whispered, the ribbon again lay 
harmlessly, fashionably, around her neck, 
its foolish little tassel swinging aimlessly at 
her brocaded belt. 

He shrank into himself, like a cuffed dog: 
quivering to think how his eyes had tricked 
him. An oculist — he must see one. 

He tried to distract his mind by really 
listening to the words now, running like a 
surging tide of imploration: 

“ In all times of our tribulation, in all 
times of our prosperity, in the hour of 
death and in the hour of judgment — ” 

By heck, a man wasted his time in such 
a place! How had he ever thought it so 
comfortable? What on earth was the fel- 
low saying? Oh, yes, the litany. A tire- 
some concoction — that “ — in the hour of 
death — and in the hour of judgment — ” 
Angrily he drew out a greasy note-book. 
Sheltered by his tall pew he began figuring 
up the advertising expenses of the irrigation 
project. The columns of figures absorbed 
and steadied him. There was nothing 
wrong with his eyes. He’d been dreaming. 

He drew a line under a new column and 
began setting down the total. The total? 
He stared at it. A shock of cold surprise, 
a stabbing uneasiness ran through him. The 
total? 

He had not written it down in numbers, 
but in words, sprawling in rough chirogra- 
phy. These words flared up at him from 
the little page: 

“ You never told me all your secrets. But 
I know them all now. And in the hour of 
death— in the hour of judgment — ” 

His eyes tried to start back into his head. 
That writing — that sprawling, impetuous 
hand — that was the perfectly familiar, eas- 
ily identified writing of the executed man 
— Charles Mintum. 


The book dropped to the pew floor with 
quite a little thud. Deeply annoyed, Mrs. 
Weldon dived for it and thrust it indig- 
nantly at him, whispering viciously: 

“ D’you want to have us stared at for 
heathens? If you’re sick, go home.” 

CHAPTER V. 

“ THE HOUR OF DEATH AND JUDGMENT.” 

I T was ten days after that especial Sun- 
day that Stepney Gales received the 
honor of an unexpected visit from Mr. 
Weldon. 

Gales never encouraged his two associ- 
ates to visit him. Socially, they were no 
credit. Gales tried never to make them 
feel this. He protected himself by urging 
on his associates that he and they could 
work together more concordantly, if they 
were not seen together too often. 

But this evening, it was nearly ten 
o’clock, here was Weldon, not only coarse 
as usual, but annoyingly odd and nervous. 

At first he wouldn’t talk at all in the 
handsome, sound-proof library. He sat 
fiddling clumsily with a costly ivory and 
gold paper knife. When it snapped, as the 
provoked Gales had foreseen it would in 
Weldon’s spatulate fingers, the visitor mere- 
ly flung the pieces brutishly aside, without 
any apology, drew out an exasperatingly 
scented handkerchief, mopped his red fore- 
head and mumbled: 

“ Gales—” 

“ Well — go ahead—” Gales urged cour- 
teously, but his courtesy was tried. 

“ When a man’s choked to death, buried, 
rotten — he’s dead, ain’t he?” 

“ One would assume so,” Gale said light- 
ly, smiling easily at Weldon. 

“ Then Charles Minturn is dead, ain’t 
he?” 

“ Of course, my friend. The late de- 
parted is cnly a memory, and an unsavory 
one. Why mention him?” 

“ Memory, hell! I ain’t a childish fool 
to be bothered by memory. Gales, this kill- 
ing business — it ain’t what it’s boosted up 
to be. He’s — back — ” 

This time Gales didn’t smile. He leaned 
keenly forward, shooting a piercingly ap- 


362 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


praising glance at Weldon, and said anx- 
iously: 

“ See here, Weldon, men like you and I 
can’t afford to have nerves like a silly 
woman.” 

“ It ain’t nerves. I wisht to God it was. 
I — why, Gales I could have stood seeing 
Charles Minturn’s handwriting cornin’ from 
my own pen; coulder stood those stripes 
of "his, those damned prison stripes weav- 
ing into everything — coulder £tood the 
noose that seems to be lyin’ around every- 
where — when I know it ain’t — but it’s gone 
further than that, Gales — ” 

“Steady, man! Steady! What do you 
mean?” 

“ He made me write it in my little old 
note-book — ‘ You never told me all your se* 
crets. But I know them all now — ’ He 
does know. He does! Gales, I had a box 
hid in my house, hid in such a way nobody, 
nobody, I tell you, could have found the 
hole it rested in. 

“ Yesterday I went to it. It was gapin’ 
open, the hole was; the iron box was gapin’ 
open, as if it had never been locked. My 
private papers were scattered all around, 
promiscuously — it made me sick as a dog 
to see ’em— -papers I hid so carefully— so 
carefully — ” The thick voice ran into a 
whimper. “ It’s awful hard on a man, 
Gales, not to have any safety for his pri- 
vate papers, not to feel any security — ” 

“Have a drink!” Gales invited curtly. 
His look of anxiety deepened. He rose. 

“ No! Sit down! I don’t want a drink. 
I’ve gotter keep my head level. I need it. 
Those were terribly particular papers. One 
of them was that — you know — about San- 
derson — ” 

“ What!” Gales sprang forward. “ You 
kept that? After swearing to me you’d 
destroy it! You infernal liar!” 

Gales was quivering with a rage that for 
the moment completely destroyed his usual 
tact. He poured a torrent of furious words 
at Weldon, who looked dully up at him and 
said, as dully: 

“ A while back I’d a punched your head 
for some of that mud you’re slinging at me. 
But now, I don’t care. What difference 
does a live man make, chestin’ around? 
Gales — God — it’s the dead ones — rotten 


and dead 1 tell you — and here still — that 
can — 

“ He touches my hand — and it writes his 
writing. He touches my spring in the wall 
—the hiding-place gapes open. He touches 
my locked box — it spills over — open, too. 
He sets a shadder on my pillow just before 
I go to bed — and it turns into a noose 
— a noose — a — noose — ” 

Gales, silenced, horrified, stared at his 
colleague. The strange, alien indifference 
of Weldon to his caustic rage had made him 
feel singularly helpless. He said, with sud- 
den gentleness and great anxiety: 

“ The paper was gone, you say?” 

“ No. It wasn’t. None of ’em were 
gone. Evidence enough to send you an’ me 
to the pen ten years w r as just scattered 
around contemptuously. Much as to say it 
wasn’t worth takin’. Because — because he 
— he could do so much — more — than that.” 
“ Yes— yes! But — you’ll bring me the 
paper, to-night?” 

“ I just as soon. It don’t make any dif- 
ference.” 

“ And about these fancies. Did you see a 
doctor?” 

“ Yes. I went to a specialist. He’s high 
up in the profession because it costs like the 
devil to talk to him. I told him a lot — ” 

“ Not too much, you fool?” rasped Gales, 
driven again into anxious anger. 

“ I dunno. I reckon not. It wouldn’t 
matter. Every day in the year he’s busy 
turning minds inside out. He did mine 
— like an old glove.” 

“ You — you — what did he say?” 

“ About the handwriting? He said some- 
thing about secondary personalities. About 
the box of papers — he just said I’d been 
sonambulistic. 

“ Talkin’ about sleep — Kate don’t sleep 
with me any more. She has taken herself 
off to the blue room and—” 

“Listen, Weldon! You didn’t say any- 
thing about me to that alienist, did you? 
Think!” 

“ About you? If I did— you should 
worry! It ain’t alienists that troubles a 
man. What could he do? Alive like he is. 
It’s when a man’s dead, I tell you, dead — 
rotten — in all times of our prosperity, in 
the hour ol death and in the hour of judg- 


IN THE WORDS OF SILENCE. 


363 


meni — what was I saying? About Kate — 
she won’t sleep with me now. She has taken 
herself off to — ” 

“ Weldon, I’m going home with you — 
now. We’ll get the papers together.” 

Weldon rose obediently. 

“ All right. I just as soon. You should 
worry! What a man wants is safety. 
Hasn’t been but such a little while since I 
really felt secure — about papers — about 
everything — my hat? It’s right here, Gales. 
Ready? Yep. You see a feeling of secur- 
ity—” 


CHAPTER VI. 

STRIPES. 

AS Gales and Weldon left the house to- 
/-Agether, Hector Sedgwick was just com- 
ing home. 

His sister kept house for him. They lived 
in a highly ornate apartment. 

You entered a decorated marble hallway 
first. When you reached the elevator the 
attendant negro running it seemed to have 
more brass buttons on his lavish uniform 
than any other elevator “ boy ” in the city. 

Near the elevator was a glittering switch- 
board, with another brassily decorated ne- 
gro at it. If you were merely a caller, this 
Afrit called up the apartment you wanted, 
gave your own name and inquired whether 
the owner was at home. 

If the owner assured you personally that 
he or she was not there, you could ask no 
better evidence of a social vacuum, and 
went away; or if you were asked to come 
up you were landed in a corridor containing 
the correct number. 

Hector Sedgwick, being in his rightful 
quarters, sent up no name and presently ap- 
plied a latch-key to the costly duplex apart- 
ment. 

When he entered the sitting-room his 
sister looked up from a dubious novel and 
gave him a careless: 

“ ’Lo, Hector.” 

She was in an exquisitely embroidered 
silk kimono. She reeked of perfumes, like 
Hector. 

But unlike her brother, she was hand- 
some. Her thick blond hair massed over 


a large, well-featured, highly colored face. 
Her bold, bright blue eyes, a littie too prom- 
inent, were set under long lashes. The eye- 
brows were finely arched. Her nose was 
admirably cut and her mouth was excep- 
tionally handsome in its full, red, sensual 
contour. That her plump figure was a 
good one the kimono left little doubt. 

Hector Sedgwick scowled. 

“ I wish you wouldn’t sit around half 
dressed like you do, Mirabel. Twice I’ve 
run comp’ny in on you this way — ” 

She flung the novel impatiently down on 
the velvet divan. 

“ Yes — ’cause you were such a simp you 
forgot to phone up. Take it from me, I 
ain’t goin’ to sit around corsetted when I 
ain’t lookin’ for gentlemen friends. At 
least not until we are ready to break into 
society. Grouch about something else. 
D’you bring the bird seed for the canary?” 

He nodded. On the lace-decked center- 
table of the elaborate!}' furnished living- 
room he laid the little package. Across 
from it the bright yellow canary slept in his 
handsome cage, darkened by a silk cover. 
The cover was worked in a nest design with 
overlarge eggs in them, hints of a domes- 
ticity to which the canary would never at- 
tain, as she had no mate. 

The big pianola was heaped with jazz 
records. One had been dropped on the 
Persian carpet. 

Miss Sedgwick yawned, eying the bird- 
seed package. 

“ I’m getting sleepy. This novel is punk. 
I wish I could find a novel with real pep 
in it. Your business going all right?” 

He nodded absently, his hat and gloves 
discarded, he stood staring at the jazz rec- 
ords, his hands jammed in his loudly 
checked pockets, hands so brilliant with dia- 
mond rings that it is a wonder their flashing 
didn’t show through the cloth. 

In his gorgeously brocaded silk tie a 
diamond pin caught the light expertly and 
flung it at the canary cage. 

“ I guess I’ll go to bed,” Miss Sedg- 
wick declared. Pier loud voice was rather 
sweet in timbre. “ Hector, I hope you’re 
going to sleep. This way you’ve taken up 
lately of pacin’ through the rooms till two 
an’ three o’clock gets me awful nervous. 


364 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


“ Why you uster turn in like — like a 
machine, an’ sleep like everything. I 
haven’t heard you snore in days.” 

He made no answer. Really, he had not 
heard her. His eyes had passed the jazz 
records and were resting on the new curtains 
Miss Sedgwick had bought and put up that 
very day. She got tired of draperies quite 
easily and was given to expensive changes, 
which Sedgwick, who supported her, rarely 
grumbled over. 

These new curtains were of corded silks. 
From their gray -green background, quite 
gray in the night light, scarlet stripes leaped 
out in a weave “ guaranteed not to fade,” 
wicked scarlet stripes, heavily insistent 
stripes — 

Sedgwick suddenly rushed forward in a 
kind of fury. Before his sister’s amazed, 
horrified eyes, to the accompaniment of her 
loud scream, he seized on the curtains, 
tore them down, trampled them, then turned 
on her, cried with a horrifying rage which 
froze in her throat the outburst she had 
been about to screech at him: 

“ Didn’t I tell you not to bring a single 
damned stripe into here? Am I to have no 
place safe from ’em?” 

She had sprung up. Under the dreadful 
fury of his glare she fell back toward the 
wall, feeling it for the door, though she 
did not dare go out. 

“ And when you get more curtains,” he 
hissed, standing on the trampled silks, 
“ don’t noose ’em back with those devil’s 
slip-knots of cord. Understand me? Nail 
’em back— fix ’em any way except those 
hellish nooses. D’you get me? D’you?” 

“ Oh, yes— yes!” she faltered, her tongue 
clumsy with terror. “ I do getcha. I for- 
got, Hector. I did really forget! An’ — an’, 
besides, I thought you was jokin’.” 

“Then don’t forget again!” he snarled. 
He gathered up the costly curtains, tore 
their silken loops from the wall, strode to 
the screened grate, wrenched the screen 
aside so violently that he wrecked it, 
crammed the curtains and their cords into 
the grate, struck a match and fired them. 

The silken-garmented girl w r atched him 
in silent terror, and as she saw the flames 
eat through the stripes, she caught, or 
seemed to catch, vaguely in the air, apart 


from them both, yet near them, a faint 
breath of ironic laughter, of complex, dread- 
ful laughter — though no such thing could 
be. 


CHAPTER VII. 

one! 

I T was at Weldon’s house, that same night, 
he and Gales got the wire calling them 
both to a near-by town on a matter of no 
small financial importance, into which 
Sedgw’ick eventually would come also. 

Gales was annoyed. Some rare and 
beautiful paintings were to be on sale to- 
morrow by an estate which Gales had him- 
self very deftly, very courteously ruined. 
He expected to get several of the paintings, 
especially an exquisite Madonna of Bougue- 
reau’s, for nearly nothing. 

But he had to go with Weldon. In the 
present state of Weldon’s nerves his judg- 
ment couldn’t be trusted. They left at 
midnight. 

Next morning they together put through 
a most successful deal. They had to do 
with a mild-eyed old professor who trusted 
to their mutual honor. The professor 
knew Sophocles, and much of Plato, back- 
ward as well as fonvard. But he did not 
know that his own world, his seemingly 
civilized, innocent world, was walked by 
devils as well as decencies. 

He was stripped and never knew it. 
Though he would know it later on. 

fueling they had earned the best of 
lunches, Gales and Weldon went into the 
town’s most prominent hotel. 

It was in the midst of the fish course 
that Weldon caught sight of Dr. Grierson 
coming in. 

J. Everstone Grierson was a physician of 
high standing. Weldon like him very 
much, for Grierson was one of those ex- 
cellent mixers who took his atmosphere 
from those he was with. 

He could say even coarser things than 
Weldon, and in Weldon’s society affected a 
carelessness of manner which was very 
pleasant to the latter, who felt Gales’s fas- 
tidiousness a check. Weldon was too pri- 
mal to understand that the “ double, en- 


IN THE WORDS OI< SILENCE. 


tentes ” of Gales, expressed with such edged 
wickedness, were even worse than the vul- 
gar rottenness of himself. 

Weldon, the instant he caught sight of 
Grierson, rose, hailed him joyously and 
hauled him over to their table. 

The physician consented smilingly, 
though he never liked lunching with such 
opposing types; they forced him into a 
middle course which would offend neither. 
This was hard to keep up. 

Gales greeted him pleasantly as he sat 
down. 

“ Thought we left you in the city,” Wel- 
don continued. “ What a hop-about you 
are, Dr. Grierson.” 

Grierson smiled, gave his simple order to 
the waiter, then said: 

“ No more a hop-about than you two — 
I was called down here by an old uncle 
who is to be operated on this afternoon.” 

He broke a piece of bread, with strong, 
assured white fingers, crumbled it, observed 
both men shrewdly, from his slanting gray 
eyes, and said questioningly: “ You two 
haven’t seen the afternoon papers?” 

Weldon looked puzzled — Gales ’s finer 
sensibilities took instant alarm. He stared 
sharply at Grierson. 

“ No, we haven’t. Is there an extra of 
any importance?” 

“ To you, I think. I’m just down from 
the city, and knew it before I left. The 
morning papers didn’t have it.” 

“ Well, then, don’t be so damned slow 
in givin’ us the news!” Weldon protested A 
extracting a fish bone from his teeth with 
unabashed fingers. The process made his 
voice thick. 

The waiter set the lamb and green peas 
Grierson wanted down on the white cloth. 
The physician helped himself critically. 
He said: 

“ About dawn Miss Sedgwick, Miss 
Mirabel Sedgwick, you know, rang me up 
in great distress.” He salted the peas 
slightly, or tried to, but the salt was lumpy 
in the cruet. The waiter hurriedly annexed 
another cruet for him. This proved more 
successful. Grierson went on: 

“ Arriving at the Sedgwick apartment, I 
found your friend Sedgwick, fully dressed, 
stretched on the floor of his hall. He must 


365 

have been on his way out, or trying to get 
out.” 

Grierson paused to give the waiter an 
order which sent the negro out of hearing. 
The darky went reluctantly. That was al- 
ways the way, his woolly head reflected 
indignantly. An order just when your cus- 
tomer was about to say something inter- 
esting. 

Gales and Weldon had stopped eating. 
They stared hard at Grierson. Weldon 
suddenly said thickly, as if his fingers were 
still in his mouth: 

“ I know. He was dead.” 

“ Quite so. He had not slept well for 
some nights, it appears.” 

“ How could he?” muttered Weldon. 

“ Eh? What?” Grierson interrogated 
crisply. 

“ He— he told me he had insomnia,” 
Weldon stammered. 

“ Yes — his sister confirmed that. She 
also said he had behaved queerly that eve- 
ning- — something about some new curtains. 
He burned them— merely because they had 
stripes.” 

Weldon’s face paled. That of Gales 
grew expressionless. 

“She said he had been, odd for days,” 
Grierson went on. “ We got him to a bed. 
He was still warm. She had been waked 
by a sense of uneasiness, it appears; she 
had thought he had merely fainted, but I 
found his heart had entirely ceased.” 

“ Wh-when you got his collar off,” Wel- 
don faltered in a low, terrified voice, 
strangely out of touch with the careless 
crowd in the big dining-room, “ w-was there 
any — any mark on — on his throat?” The 
question came as though tortured from Wel- 
don’s coarse red lips. 

Grierson gave him a searching glance. 

“ Odd you should guess that! Yes — 
there was a faint red line about his throat 
— but under the high, white collar. The 
collar was not mussed in the least. 

“ If any one had noosed and strangled 
him, the collar must, inevitably, have been 
crushed or mussed up. I couldn’t account 
in any way for the mark.” 

“ His — his face ’’—Weldon stammered 
on, clutching the table edge — “ was — was 
swollen, or — ” 


366 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


“ Markedly congested. Taken alto- 
gether his appearance was really that of a 
man who — well — who has been hanged, 
you know, in good health. The indica- 
tions were all there of strangulation — yet 
the idea, under the circumstances, is ab- 
surd.” 

“ Damned ridiculous,” Weldon agreed 
in a high shrill falsetto that made several 
diners turn and look at him. 

Realizing his tone, he became nervously 
silent just as the negro returned with the 
next course. 

Weldon ate nothing more. His eyes va- 
cantly on the table-dotted room, his ears 
filled with a blare of popular music, he sat 
silent, his pallor deepening into ashen gray. 
Then, through the band’s primitively riot- 
ous, insistent beat of “ Where Do We Go 
From Here?” Weldon caught a metallic, 
distinct strain of laughter, of anticipatory 
algid laughter that struck freezingly 
through the careless popular chords. 


CHAPTER VIII. 

two! 

I T was a week later that Stepney Gales 
received in his home an uninvited guest. 
Mrs. Gales was away overnight, at her 
sister’s. Gales himself was just thinking 
of bed when the negro man servant an- 
nounced rollingly, on the heels of a heavy 
bell peal: “ Mr. Weldon, suh.” 

The negro disappeared and Weldon 
lurched defiantly in, slung off his hat, flung 
on the carpet of the library a suit-case he 
carried, dropped his gloves by it, slouched 
into a chair, and declared hoarsely: 

“ Gales, I’ve come to stay a coupler 
weeks with you. I’ve got to stay. Kate’s 
turned fool.” 

“ How has she turned fool?” Gales in- 
quired coolly, masking his anger over this 
crude intrusion on his privacy. 

“ She — she says I’m mad. She — she’s 

threatening to have a warrant of lunacy 
sworn out against me, unless I go to the 
Farhill Sanatorium for a mental cure. A 
mental cure!” He laughed loudly, then get- 
ting no response from Gales, asked anxious- 
ly: “ Ain’t that funny, Gales? A mental 


cure! Me! Don’t that strike you as 
funny?” 

“ Certainly; you are all right.” 

“ Of course I am. Same as a sailor — 
But you know what women are!” 

“ Certainly! I have a wife myself, Wel- 
don. And unfortunately, she has arranged 
to fill the house with her kin to-morrow, 
for a month. I am awfully sorry, but I 
haven’t a comer to offer you.” 

This was a lie. But Gales’s memory did 
not extend back to where he hadn’t lied. 
He would have done so embryonically had 
any opportunity then existed. 

Weldon stared at him, like some red, 
crude mass trying to throw out antennae, 
endeavoring to feel for friendship, for 
safety. 

Then suddenly his face purpled with 
rage, he lurched up, screaming hoarsely: 
“ You're nothing but an empty gourd! 
A bitter, hollow, gourd, full of windy lies! 
You’re not my friend. I haven’t a friend. 
I’ve nothing but myself. But I’ll be too 
much for you, too much for Kate, too 
much for hint with his dirty stripes wav- 
ing at me. 

“ I won’t look at them again. I won’t 
see — what’s that? What’s that over tjiere? 
You floated those hell-stripes on that wall, 
you Judas! You son of — ” 

His screeching voice rose to a yell. The 
negro ran in, then receded, screeching him- 
self at the figure now crouched on the floor, 
beating the air as though to fend off some- 
thing which momently came closer. 

It was next morning that Weldon, white 
and furtive-eyed, went voluntarily to the 
Farhill Sanatorium. 

And it was in this place that his attend- 
ant three mornings later, found him dead 
in bed, his congested face horribly ensan- 
guined and a thin, unaccounted-for, faint, 
scarlet line around his bull-like throat. 


CHAPTER IX. 

THE SICK CHAMBER. 

AT the urging of Robert Mintum, Joyce 
AX had remained! in Gales’s employ as 
secretary; had continued to keep 
secret her engagement. 


IN THE WORDS OF SILENCE. 


367 


Robert Mintura felt vaguely that she 
might, by staying with Gales, be of great 
help in some crucial hour, though he could 
not justify the precognition. 

He had learned to obey any strong feel- 
ing about the righting of his father’s wrong 
as part of his father’s voice. 

For instance, during the nights, which 
saw the deaths of Sedgwick and Weldon, 
Robert had been miles away from these 
scenes of horror; he had followed an urge 
to leave the vicinity for twenty-four hours, 
and in each case had, after learning of the 
deaths, realized how the protective influ- 
ence of the treacherously betrayed, mur- 
dered Minturn had guided his son. In both 
cases young Mintum’s alibi was perfect. 

Robert had never heard the voice again 
bodily, but he kept his soul receptive, pas- 
sionately receptive. 

For the sake of Robert’s hopes, which 
she did not understand, because he dared 
not explain, Joyce worked on under Gales. 

As die days passed, she saw odd changes 
in her employer. Directly after the death 
of Sedgwick and Weldon he had been sin- 
gularly gay. But this festivity of mood 
had suffered a feverish decline, alternating 
with bursts of wild savagery toward several 
men with whom he dealt, or with fits of 
strange, uneasy gloom. 

Physically, Gales took on an unhealthy 
look. 

Naturally, then, Joyce was not surprised 
when one day he didn’t come to the office. 
Neither was she astonished to learn from 
Mrs. Gales that he was ill in bed. 

A week elapsed and Joyce remained idle, 
on salary. Then a phone message from 
Mrs, Gales summoned her to the Gales’s 
residence — to take some dictation from her 
sick employer. 

Joyce promptly complied. Arriving she 
started up the handsome steps, but almost 
immediately her gait slowed; she halted. 
There was nothing to trouble her — at least 
nothing visible. Yet she had a feeling of 
being almost tangibly stopped; thrust back. 

A blotchy shadow, a grotesque writhing 
shadow, crawled down the steps toward 
her, but no doubt thrown by some jutting 
part of the house. 


For a second Joyce thought it looked 
singularly tentacular, singularly like a 
blackly blotchy octopus trying hideously to 
defy and challenge her; or like some twist- 
ed Cerberus endeavoring to guard — what? 

A moment later she laughed at herself, 
ran up the steps, ignoring the shadow, rang 
and was admitted by a servant. 

For in the face of daylight, in spite of 
the conventional flunky leading the way, 
there suddenly seemed to come flooding 
from different parts of the house strange, 
whirling currents of chaotic, evilly anxious 
challenge. 

She had an incomprehensible, dismaying 
sensation that something was trying to turn 
her away. 

Not in kindness; but because if she 
stayed she might help to lessen the forces 
of these very currents. 

As she came nearer to Gales’s room, she 
had air insistent conception that these cur- 
rents, distracted, malignant, forced out of 
their usual lodgment, were emanations 
thrown off, or torn from, Gales’s own soul 
— leaving him in the hands of a greater 
force, against which he had heretofore se- 
cured his life. She felt, in a quickening, 
initial terror, that these malignant emana- 
tions were like swirling bees unhived and 
leaderless, but filled with an instinct of 
destruction against anything likely to aid 
the greater force now in possession of Gales. 

Almost they took nebulous shape in the 
air around her; almost, but never quite. 

In the last corridor they so increased, 
mistily flooding from the room in which he 
lay, that the daylight sickened from them, 
and paled from ruddy sunshine to a wan. 
and ominous gray. 

This gray smothering of the wholesome 
day sent a thrill of terror through Joyce. 
She was just reassuringly telling herself 
that it was mad fancy, when the leading 
servant shuddered, and turned a quick, 
frightened look over his shoulder, a look of 
unspoken, apprehensive questioning. 

His rosy face was full of cracks now, 
cracks through which fright showed plainly. 
There was no time for words with him. He 
let her into the sick-room and, unceremoni- 
ously took to his heels. 


368 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


The room that Joyce entered was of no- 
ble proportions, with a very high ceiling. 
Ordinarily it vras lighted by four great 
windows. 

But, at some fancy of the man lying in 
the wide-high-posted bed, these windows 
were carefully darkened by closely drawn 
shades. The light in die room sprang from 
a brightly burning wood fire in the small 
grate, and from the soft rays of a shaded 
lamp. 

Had he shut out the daylight because it 
had paled here also into that wan, fore- 
boding spectral gray? 

Had he had the fire lighted for its hu- 
manlike cheerfulness? For its warmth? 

B*ut as she asked herself this about the 
fire, she discovered that the blaze was 
neither warm nor cheerful. 

It burned, quite freely. But although 
it was summer, a faint yet deadly chill was 
in the air, which, Joyce realized, no fire 
could lessen. And the little chuckling, 
crackling sounds, which should spring hap- 
pily from a wood fire were not audible. It 
burned without a sound. 

Gales lay half reclining on a heap of 
pillows. 

Joyce was shocked by the dreadful 
change his illness had brought. 

The immaculate white spread, drawn 
half-way over him in tumbled, wrinkled 
lines, was not whiter than his drawn, thin, 
face, nor more wrinkled than his hands 
which picked restlessly at the cover. 

By the fireplace, wrapped in the imper-. 
sonal patience of her merciful profession, 
the trained nurse sat in good-humored qui- 
etude. Her evident practicality was written 
plainly on her whole plump, white-gowned 
personality. 

Joyce felt keenly that this woman did 
not know what even the wooden-faced 
servant had known — that there was some- 
thing strangely wrong with the atmosphere 
of this house. 

With that strangeness the bedroom 
quivered — emphasizing the pressure from 
some unseen presence which was driving 
Gales into an abyss of horror, at which 
the secretary scarcely dared guess. 

Joyce realized that if the good will of 
this presence had not flowed in to her, that 


if she were in Gales’s dreadful position of 
beleaguerment, she might have gone mad 
under a terror so inhuman. 


CHAPTER X. 

SHADOWS. 

T HIS luxurious, modern sick-chamber 
was really, in its algid atmosphere, a 
desert, a terrible Sahara, desolate, 
infinitely menacing, infinitely cold, across 
which blew the chill and driving forces of 
the presence. 

The very shadows in the comers of the 
darkened, firelit room were not real shad- 
ows; they were blotchy forms of those de- 
lights and successes Gales had lived by, 
and which had been beaten from his soul 
in the very hour when he most terribly 
needed their sustaining strength. 

With these perceptions, scarcely trans- 
lated into thoughts, came to Joyce the dis- 
tinct, rank reek of pipe tobacco, odd 
enough in the fastidiously kept room of a 
man who smoked only the mildest of ciga- 
rettes. Her nostrils quivered to the smell. 
Gales caught their dilation. 

“ So you smell it, too. The infernal 
Kentucky Belleflower he smoked,” Gales 
said hoarsely, without preliminary greet- 
ing. “ But my nurse here, Miss Smith, 
never smells it, though her nose is keen 
enough.” 

“ Mr. Gales thinks he catches a whiff of 
rank pipe-tobacco,” the nurse explained 
kindly, with an intonation which plainly 
conveyed: “ Since he wants to think you 
smell it, humor him.” • 

“ It is quite obvious, Mr. Gales,” Joyce 
said faintly, laying her - note-book and pen- 
cil on the table. Miss Smith gave a nod 
of approval, but Joyce felt a deeper quiver 
of terror that she and Gales alone detected 
this scent. 

“ Sit down,” Gales half whispered. “ I 
sent for you because — because I’m being 
driven — ” 

He broke off. The nurse sent him a 
'critical but masked glance. Then looked 
placidly at the fire. 

But the blotchy shadows in the corners 
seemed to swing forward as though to help 


IN THE WORDS OF SILENCE. 


at the word “ driven,” then slunk back 
from the cold firelight, as though again 
defeated. 

Gales continued, after a restless tossing 
on his pillow's: 

“ I’m being driven — always — he — Get 
ready, if you please, Miss Wilberforce, to 
take down — ” 

Even in his hunted protest, that unfail- 
ing, almost princely courtesy toward all 
women broke through in his “ if you 
please — ” 

Joyce got ready, telling herself that this 
fearful, inexplicable tension she felt, like 
a rising tide in the room, could not last. 

Now she was sitting near the bed. At 
his direction, she had drawn up a small 
table for herself and had made ready pen, 
ink, and legal cap for her writing, which 
was to be in long hand, Gales explained. 

She looked at him. His eyes, which had 
been old at twenty-one with inherited 
wickednesses, were aged further now by the 
addition of those evils he had taught him- 
self — but this adulthood of evil had not 
dimmed them. They burned with a red 
radiance of suppressed fury against the 
sense of being, as he said, “ driven,” 
though on his thin lids fear plainly hovered. 

He had paused, as though listening keen- 
ly, in a sort of resentful terror. The look 
passed. He complained with a dreadful 
querulousness: 

“ I’m being hounded, I tell you — com- 
pelled — against — I don’t get any sleep — < 
I’ve got to sleep — but even after I’ve — Do 
you think he’ll let me alone then — do you? 
answer!” 

Then, as she hesitated, his lifelong cour- 
tesy fell writhing from him. He yelled, 
rather than cried: “ Answer — you fool! 
Answer! ” 

Joyce faltered hurriedly, desperately. 

“ I ‘don’t know! You can only try — ” 

“ I’ve got to — anyway — I’ve got to — 
I’m being driven — I — ” 

The nurse rose calmly and came to the 
bed. She laid a steady hand on his pulse. 
Her voice declared pleasantly: 

“ Don’t excite yourself, Mr. Gales. 
Dictate what you wish in as few words as 
possible, but try not to excite yourself.” 

Gales jerked his wrist away from her, 

4 A-S 


369 

The look he cast up at her was blasting in 
its contemptuous anger. He snarled: 

“ Get back where you were, damn you!” 

The nurse good-humoredly returned to 
the fireplace. There she sat listening ab- 
sently for what he would dictate — some 
business paper, no doubt. 

Gales, after the preliminary dating, be- 
gan slowly, as though each word was wrung 
from him: 

“ I, Stepney Gales, being of sound mind, 
do hereby profess and declare this here- 
after signed statement to be exactly true; 
that I and Wesley Weldon, now deceased, 
and Hector Sedgwick, now deceased, did in 
their recent lifetime form a coalition of 
three, whereby we worked together to our 
combined advantage.” 

It seemed a very ordinary sort of paper, 
the nurse thought indifferently. Her mind 
wandered to a sale of rubber-heeled shoes 
at Bernstein & Beagle’s the next day. Pity 
she couldn’t go. 

Gales went slowly on, the white, profes- 
sionally steady little fingers of Joyce flying 
over the smooth paper. She was trying 
desperately to bar out from her conscious- 
ness everything except the hoarse, reluc- 
tant, curiously forced voice of her em- 
ployer. 

“ Being pursued and uselessly hounded 
by the State’s attorney, Edward Marsh, 
we consulted together and decided we had 
no ohoice but to kill him.” 

The startled nurse let fall a buffer, with 
which she was now surreptitiously polishing 
her quite excellent nails. The pen shook 
in Joyce’s fingers; she managed to steady 
it to go on. 

“ This killing was done, under our triple 
guidance, by Antonio Saltelli, an Italian, 
who died last week. He made certain blun- 
ders which were dangerous to us, and made 
us consider our decision about Marsh an 
error. It became clear that to protect our- 
selves from possible grave consequences we 
must make the law fix the killing on some 
one. We could not use Antonio, he could 
ruin us. We therefore selected, as a shield, 
Charles Minturn.” 

The nurse gasped. This was concretely 
horrible; something that she could under- 
stand. But to Joyce far more awful was her 


370 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


unalterable conviction that the blotchy 
crawling shadows were snatching at the bed, 
trying to grasp and check the presence 
which was compelling from Gales, by an in- 
disputable will, the carefully worded state- 
ment. 

But presently the shadows slunk back 
again, reeling into their corners, and Joyce’s 
terrified soul had a consciousness of the 
angry susurration of their baffled rage. 
Gales ’s voice went faintly on: 

“ Minturn had never been really one of 
us. Whenever we tried to do anything real- 
ly worth while, his damn-fool honesty inter- 
fered with us, or demoralized our plans. 
He knew more than we liked. So by our 
own false testimony — ” 

Again Joyce felt the protesting, contorted 
surge of the misshapen, grasping shadows, 
stretching out tentacular arms with writhing 
snatches. This time their clutching, invis- 
ible feelers must have taken some hold on 
the compelling, unseen presence. For Gale 
stopped aggressively as though intangibly 
relieved, assisted. Visibly in his haughty, 
aristocratic face a change showed. 

Something of his former mastery came 
back to him, as the shadows, taking des- 
perate hold at last, dragged and dragged 
monstrously at the unseen force. 

A palsy of suspense gripped Joyce. No 
one could help — if this were what she be- 
lieved it now to be, an awful duel — over 
the body of this man. She wanted to cry 
out, to call on God, and could not. 

But in the very heart of her gripping 
terrors, the shadows let go their hold, wav- 
ered, flickered, writhed, in a strange, black 
agony of malformation. Then, beaten in 
the very crux of success, they rushed back- 
ward, like sullen but terrified octopi, to 
writhe again toward new strength in their 
flood of darkness. 


CHAPTER XI. 

CONFESSION. 

A LOOK of crooked rage, of vicious 
hope frustrated, swept ranoorously 
over Gales’s face. His thin, delicate 
hands struck out — at nothing; swept in a 
semicircle and found — nothing. 


Nothing, at least, that any ordinary 
sense might detect. To the nurse, now 
watching eagerly, it was merely an emo- 
tional gesture. 

To baffled viciousness in Gales’s face 
succeeded fear, eloquently written. 

The seeking circle of his hands changed 
suddenly to a gesture of trying to ward off 
something he could not combat. 

A chill ran shudderingly through the 
girl’s whole body; then her forces unlocked 
in a gasping sigh of horror. 

For she got a vivid impression from 
Gales’s quivering, fending hands and start- 
ing eyes, that he believed himself trying to 
fend off a dangling noose. So eloquent of 
this were his gestures, so deep the insen- 
sate terror of his whole atmosphere, that 
almost she thought the gray wraith of a 
threatening, strangling cord might become 
visible. 

I did not; yet when Gales shrank fright- 
fully, as though a hand had clutched his 
shoulder, a hand that might invisibly be 
guiding a noose toward his throat, it seemed 
a natural sequence of his gestures. 

Gales’s white fingers flew to his throat 
and banded it protectingly. His dry lips 
gasped in a hoarse squeak unlike a human 
voice. 

“ So by our own false testimony we got 
him hanged and — ” 

Sucking in a gulp of air, as though the 
words placated and, at least for the mo- 
ment, drove aside that invisible shadowy 
noose which the girl felt he believed he 
saw, a swift relief came into his face. Gales 
hurried on, as though he meant to take no 
further chances. 

“ And so saved ourselves from any pos- 
sibility of suspicion. Of the four con- 
cerned in the death of Minturn, I only sur- 
vive. But I now have a right to live. 
Fully and freely, I have made honorable 
amends out of my own generous repent- 
ance — ” 

He broke of, crying desperately to 
Joyce: “ You heard that, didn’t you? 
Heard it interrupt me! That breath of 
faintest laughter, of swift, sardonic, dread- 
ful laughter that blew 7 across the room?” 

“ N-no,” she stammered. But the nurse 
frowned at her and lied soothingly. “ That 


IN THE WORDS OF SILENCE. 


was just somebody laughing on the street. 
I heard it myself.” 

Reassured by her ready prevarication, 
Gales, immersed in his now passionately 
eloquent register of his own goodness, hur- 
ried on with it. 

. “ Few men,” he dictated sharply, yet 
scarcely as though to Joyce, but rather as 
if to some listener unseen, “ would do what 
I am doing — surrender friends and repu- 
tation that the memory of an obscure fail- 
ure, a weak, valueless citizen, might be 
cleared. Only a gentleman would make 
such reparation and — ” 

Once more he seemed checked. Had 
he, Joyce wondered, strangely uneasy, a 
recurrence of his fancy that laughter, that 
faint, derisive yet incalculably fearful 
laughter, with its cold notes of blasting 
imperishable sarcasm, currented across the 
great room? She heard him mutter to 
himself that under it the blotchy Shadows 
shrank closer together, and the cold light 
of the unwarming fire came further into 
the room, though the fire crawled the floor 
and kept there, unable to rise and lighten 
.the gray atmosphere at the chamber. 
Then — 

“ Out of my own generous repentance,” 
Gales repeated firmly, sitting up with wax- 
ing strength. “ And being of sound mind, 
and a recuperating body, I hereby, before 
three witnesses, affix my hand and seal, 
attesting, so help me God, the truth of 
my confession.” 

He paused, licked his lips eagerly. 
Then— 

“ Call in my wife, Miss Smith. She 
knows she is to witness — this — ” 

Obediently the nurse disappeared. 

The coal fire burned on. The shadows 
monstrous, troubled, panic seized, crowd- 
ed each other in their corners. The crawl- 
ing light on the floor drew nearer them. 
But the gray thickness in the room low- 
ered heavily, and the soft lamp-rays la- 
bored with difficulty through it. 

Joyce, forcing herself to calmness, 
pushed a lap-table before her employer, 
its surface, swung on an iron arm, extend- 
ed in a comfortable way in front of him. 

She laid there the inkstand, and pen 
he demanded, and the confession — just as 


371 

Julia Gales glided into the room, her white 
face an expressionless mask. 

There were two underlings in the room — 
Joyce and the closely following narse. Mrs. 
Gales had no intentions of letting any em- 
ployee see any secret misery of her well- 
descended soul. And if her pride was mis- 
placed it nevertheless controlled her emo- 
tions valuably. 

Gales greeted her. In a sort of tumul- 
tuous satisfaction, he signed. 

As he did sq the cold, unwarming fire- 
light rolled further along the floor. From 
the huddled shadows the wraith of a chok- 
ing susurration chaotically breathed, they 
turned on each other, writhing together. 
Over their tentacular blackness the looming 
gray darkened. 

The nurse witnessed, signing in a fine, 
little, shadeless ljand of precision. 

Joyce witnessed; she made a poor job of 
it — 'her little fingers rocked with a sudden 
confusion of mingled joy and terror. 

Mrs. Gales witnessed; her name was 
written with a haughty composure and a 
glance of instinctive scorn at Joyce’s scrawl. 

Gales fell back on the pillows. Mrs. 
Gales went quickly to the coal fire and 
stood there, apparently utterly impassive, 
looking into the bed of the unheating 
flames. The nurse moved with professional 
quiet to a curtained window and stood 
there, puzzling over the surge toward new 
strength in her patient. 

Gales said excitedly to Joyce, licking his 
lips in oddly unctuous way. 

“ Lock the paper up in the escritoire, 
over there. And give me the key.” 


CHAPTER XII. 

GALES PASSES AWAY. 

S HE understood. He had only stripped 
bare his treachery in that confession as 
a cunning sop to the terrible presence 
at his elbow’. 

As soon as he was well again, and he 
would get well now 7 , he would, with all his 
old audacious, intellectual courage, destroy 
the confession. 

He would declare it bom of his feverish 
brain. He. would appeal to the professions 


372 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


al loyalty of his highly paid secretary; he 
would fill the nurse’s lap with money. And 
even if they failed him, a great dosed case 
would not be reopened, nor a man hung, 
on a statement he declared to be sprung 
from his temporary insanity. 

Confosed, horrified, by such monumental 
craft, which extended toward that strange 
cold presence threatening him, the secretary 
tottered rather than walked toward the 
polished escritoire, sickened, dismayed. 

As she faltered to the desk, put the paper 
miserably in, locked the desk and turned 
key in hand, Gales cried eagerly: 

“ Bring me the key! I shall be all right 
now. I’ve done what a gentleman should; 
I’ve cleared my record. Nothing can hurt 
a man who has freely, generously — ” 

The gray in the room darkened. Before 
Joyce’s staring eyes, through the prison- 
cell gray, the thin, dropping wraith of a 
noose sprang into view. 

It dangled over the shadows, the twisted 
scurrying shadows, nearly home. Joyce’s 
very breathing halted, caught in her arrest- 
ed lungs; for a misty, guiding hand, a hand 
running into a gray-sleeved arm, was guid- 
ing the noose, coldly, steadily, above the 
vainly leaping shadows, toward — 

She saw Gales’s mouth open— in a horri- 
ble, soundless yell. She saw his impotent 
hands try to fling themselves out defensive- 
ly; only to fall writhing across his loins, 
among the helpless shadows that could not 
stay the hand guiding the noose toward 
Gales’s throat. 

Before the deadly horror in Gales 's face, 
before the awful silence of his vainly strug- 
gling lips that writhed for sound and could 
not make it, the senses of Joyce reeled. 

His maddened eyes, old with a hundred 
inherited wickednesses, old with the incal- 
culable evils he had added to these, lost 
their dark fire and blanched with what they 
saw — becoming fields of terror. 

The wife staring at the fire, thinking her 
own locked thoughts — saw nothing. 

The nurse, her eyes on the wife, wonder- 
ing how Gales’s confession would affect 
Mrs. Gales socially — saw nothing. 

Only Joyce, in a lonely, shocking com- 
prehension, saw — and understood. 

(The 


And now around him, in a last despera- 
tion of purpose to save their home, the 
crawling shadow's threw vainly defensive 
tentacles on the noose itself. Then, sud- 
denly, those shadows fled — flushing, blotch- 
ily, into their corners, cowering there. 

The eyes of Gales bulged; his white face 
swelled; darkened with congesting blood; 
his fingers clawed madly at his throat. 

The senses of Joyce more than reeled. 
She dropped, almost fainting, into the near- 
est chair, trying to cry out, though, in the 
very effort, she knew' this would be impos- 
sible until — 

A half oblivion cut off her sight. Her 
ears roared with the noises of her blood re- 
belling against her terror. Her face 
dropped into her hands. 

Perhaps only a second passed — as we 
measure time — in that blurred conscious- 
ness. Then a very human cry from the 
nurse roused her. 

She sprang up. Miss Smith had sudden- 
ly touched the shade-spring at the nearest 
window. Daylight flooded the room. 

The shadow's were utterly gone. A tide 
of warmth ran from the fire. 

Sprawled across the lap-table still before 
him, the over-set ink running in a black 
tide from his hidden face, Gales lay in a 
tumbled heap, so eloquent of death that 
the three women, who instantly ran to him 
and lifted him, knew, before they touched 
him, there would be only clay. 

As they finished laying him flat on the 
bed, the nurse exclaimed sharply and in a 
perplexity never lightened for her, over the 
distinct red mark around his throat. 

Joyce only said, in a mechanical way to 
the wife: 

“ You’ll not deny your signature?” 

The haughty face flushed deeply; but 
Mrs. Gales said w'ith steady composure: 

“ I will not deny it.” 

Quietly, swiftly Joyce unlocked the desk; 
took out the statement, thrust it into her 
blouse and hurried from the house, neither 
of the women trying to stop her. 

Outside, her lungs gasped in the fresh 
sweet air, the kindly wholesome summer 
air, and her eager feet ran swiftly, carrying 
her toward Robert Mintum. 
end,). 



(nf Racy Cummings 

A Sequel to “ The Girl in the Golden Atom ' 


A “DIFFERENT” SERIAL 

PRECEDING CHAPTERS BRIEFLY RETOLD 

F OUR men sat in the clubroom. They were the Doctor, the Banker, the Big Business MaD, 
and the Very Young Man. It was just five years since the Chemist had gone into the ring 
for the last time. The Doctor read a letter the Chemist had left, in which he gave the 
formulae of the compounds for decreasing and increasing the size, and his instructions in ease any 
or all of them wished to follow him into the ring. Three of them had decided to go, leaving 
the Banker to care for the ring, and see that it was kept safely, so that should they desire to 
return they might do so without danger. After arranging all their plans, and testing the chemicals 
on a baby alligator and a sparrow, they separated to arrange their worldly affairs. 

On November 4 they met again, and at 8 p.m. the three simultaneously took the drug, and 
shortly were helped by the Banker to the edge of the ring. Rapidly they grew smaller and smaller, 
and their surroundings in the ring larger, the way rougher, until at last they reach the great 
gorge that, to the human eye (in its natural state), was but a tiny scratch on the inside of the 
ring. At first the way seemed impassable, but gradually as it grew and extended ways opened 
and the three adventurers began their descent into the ring, 


“ Gosh, I’m all in, too!” said the Very;. 
Young Man with a sigh. 

They were sitting upon a ledge abouti 
twenty feet wide, with the wall down which' 
they had come at their back. 

“ I’ll swear that’s as far down there as 
it ever was,” said the Big Business Man, 
with a wave of his hand toward the valley 
below them. 

“ Further,” remarked the Very Young 
Man. “ I’ve known that right along.” 

“ That’s to be expected,” said the Doc* 
tor. “ But we’re a third the way down, 
just the same; that’s the main thing.” He 
glanced up the rocky, precipitous wall be-* 
hind them. “ We’ve come down a thou- 
sand feet, at least. The valley must be 
three thousand feet deep or more now.” 

“ Say, how deep does it get before i| 
stops?” inquired the Very Young Man, 
This story began in the All-Story Weekly for January 24. 

S73 


CHAPTER VII. 

THE VALLEY OF THE SCRATCH. 

F OR the first half-hour of their climb 
down into the valley of the scratch, 
the three friends were too preoccupied 
with their own safety to talk more than 
an occasional sentence. They came upon 
many places that at first glance appeared 
impassable, or at least sufficiently hazardous 
to cause them to hesitate, but in each in- 
stance the changing contour of the preci- 
pice offered some other means of descent. 

After thirty minutes of arduous effort, 
the Big Business Man sat down suddenly 
upon a rock and began to unlace his shoes. 

“ I’ve got to rest a while,” he groaned. 
“ My feet are in terrible shape.” 

His two companions were glad of the 
opportunity to sit with him for a moment. 


374 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


The Doctor smiled at him quietly. 
“ Roger’s notes put it about twelve thou- 
sand,” he answered. “ It should reach that 
depth and stop about ” — he hesitated a mo- 
ment, calculating — “ about two o’clock,” 
he finished. 

“ Some climb,” commented the Very 
Young Man. “ We could do this a lot bet- 
ter than we’re doing it, I think.” 

For some time they sat in silence. From 
•where they sat the valley had all the ap- 
pearance of a rocky, barren canon of their 
own world above, as it might have looked 
on the late afternoon of a cloudless sum- 
mer day. A gentle breeze was blowing, 
and in the sky overhead they could still 
see the huge light that for them was the 
sun. 

“ The weather is certainly great down 
here anyway,” observed the Very Young 
Man, “ that’s one consolation.” 

The Big Business Man had replaced his 
shoes, taken a sw y allow of water, and risen 
to his feet, preparing to start downward 
again, when suddenly they all noticed a 
curious sw r aying motion, as though the earth 
were moving under them. 

“ Now what?” ejaculated the Very Young 
Man, standing up abruptly, with his feet 
spread wide apart. 

The ground seemed pressing against his 
feet as if he were weighted down with a 
heavy load. And he felt a little also, as 
though in a moving train with a side thrust 
to guard against. The sun was no longer 
visible, and the valley was plunged in the 
semidarkness of twilight. A strong wind 
sprang up, sweeping down upon them from 
above. 

The Very Young Man and the Big Busi- 
ness Man looked puzzled; the Doctor alone 
of the three seemed to understand what was 
happening. 

“ He’s moving the ring,” he explained, 
with a note of apprehension in his voice. 

“ Oh,” ejaculated the Big Business Man, 
comprehending at last, “ so that’s the — ” 

The Very Young Man standing with his 
back to the wall and his legs spread wide 
looked hastily at his watch.. “ Moving the 
ring? Why, damn it — ” he began impetu- 
ously. 

The Big Business Man interrupted him. 


“ Look there, look! ” he almost whispered, 
awestruck. 

The sky above the valley suddenly had 
become suffused with red. As they watched 
it seemed to take form, appearing no longer 
space, but filled with some enormous body 
of reddish color. In one place they could 
see it broken into a line of gray, and under- 
neath the gray, two great circular holes 
of light gleamed down at them. 

The Doctor shuddered and closed his 
eyes; his two friends stared upward, fas- 
cinated into immobility. 

“ What — is— -that?” the Very Young 
Man whispered. 

Before he could be answered, the earth 
swayed under them more violently than be- 
fore. The red faded back out of the sky, 
and the sun appeared sweeping up into the 
zenith, where it hung svraying a moment 
and then poised motionless. The valley 
was flooded again with light; the ground 
steadied under them and became quiet. The 
wind died rapidly away, and in another 
moment it was as though nothing unusual 
had occurred. 

For a time the three friends stood silent, 
too astonished for words at this extraordi- 
nary experience. The Doctor was the first 
to recover himself. “ He moved the ring,” 
he said hurriedly. “ That’s twice. We 
must hurry.” 

“ It’s only quarter past ten. We told 
him not till eleven,” protested the Very 
Young Man. 

“ Even that is too soon for safety,” said 
the Doctor back over his shoulder, for 
already he had started downward. 

It was nearly twelve o’clock when they 
stopped again for rest. At this time the 
valley appeared about seven or eight thou- 
sand feet deep: they estimated themselves 
to be slightly more than half-way down. 
From eleven until twelve they had momen- 
tarily expected some disturbing phenomena 
attendent upon the removal of the ring by 
the Banker from the clubroom to its place 
in the museum. But nothing unusual had 
occurred. 

“ He probably decided to leave it alone 
for a while,” commented the Big Business 
Man, as they were discussing the matter. 
“ Glad he showed that much sense.” 


THE PEOPLE OF THE GOLDEN ATOM. 


“ It would not bother us much now,” 
the Doctor replied. “ We’re too far down. 
See how the light is changing.” 

The sky showed now only as a narrow 
ribbon of blue between the edges of the 
canon’s walls. The sun was behind the 
wall down which they were climbing, out of 
sight, and throwing their side of the valley 
into shadow. And already they could be- 
gin to see a dim phosphorescence glowing 
from the rocks near at hand. 

The Very Young Man, sitting beside the 
Doctor, suddenly* gripped his friend by the 
arm. “ A bird,” he said, pointing down 
the valley. “ See it there?” 

From far off they could see a bird com- 
ing up the center of the valley at a height 
apparently almost level with their own po- 
sition, and flying toward them. They 
watched it in silence as it rapidly ap- 
proached. 

“ Great Scott, it’s big! ” muttered the Big 
Business Man in an undertone. 

As the bird came closer they saw it was 
fully fifty feet across the wings. It was 
flying straight down the valley at tremen- 
dous speed. When it was nearly opposite 
them they heard a familiar “ cheep, cheep,” 
come echoing across the valley. 

“ The sparrow,” whispered the Very 
Young Man. “ Oh, my gosh, look how big 
it is!” 

In another moment it had passed them; 
they watched in silence until it disappeared 
in the distance. 

“ Well,” said the Very Young Man, “ if 
that had ever seen us—” He drew a long 
breath, leaving the rest to the imagination 
of his hearers. 

“ What a wonderful thing!” said the Big 
Business Man, with a note of awe in his 
voice. “ Just think — that sparrow when 
we last saw it was infinitesimally small.” 

The Doctor laughed. “ It’s far smaller 
now than it was then,” he said. “ Only 
since we last saw it we have changed size 
to a much greater extent than it has.” _ 

“ Foolish of us to have sent it in here,” 
remarked the Big Business Man casually. 
“ Suppose that — ” He stopped abruptly. 

The very Young Man started hastily to 
his feet. 

“Oh, golly!” he exclaimed as the same 


375 

thought occurred to him. “ That alliga- 
tor — ” He looked about him wildly. 

“ It was foolish perhaps.” The Doctou 
spoke quietly. “ But we can’t help it now. 
The sparrow has gone. That alligator may 
be right here at our feet ” — the Very Young 
Man jumped involuntarily — “ and so small 
we can’t see it,” the Doctor finished with 
a smile. “ Oh it may be a hundred miles 
away and big as a dinosauer.” The Very 
Young Man shuddered. 

“ It was senseless of us to let them get 
in here anyway,” said the Big Business 
Man. “ That sparrow evidently has stopped 
getting smaller. Do you realize how T big 
it will be to us, after we’ve diminished a 
few hundred times more?” 

“ We needn’t worry over it,” said the 
Doctor. “ Even if we knew the alligator 
got into the valley the chances of our see- 
ing it here are one in a million. But we 
don’t even know that. If you’ll remember 
it was still some distance away from the 
scratch when it became invisible; I doubt 
very much if it ever got there. No, I think 
probably we’ll never see it again.” 

“ I hope not,” declared the Very Young 
Man emphatically. 

For another hour they climbed steadily 
downward, making more rapid progress than 
before, for the descent became constantly 
less difficult. During this time they spoke 
little, but it was evident that the Very 
Young Man, from the frequent glances he 
threw around, never for a moment forgot 
the possibility of encountering the alliga- 
tor. The sparrow did not return, although 
for that, too, they were constantly on the 
lookout. 

It was nearly half past one when the 
Big Business Man threw himself upon the 
ground exhausted. The valley at this time 
had reached a depth of over ten thousand 
feet. It w T as still growing deeper, but the 
travelers had made good progress and were 
not more than fifteen hundred feet above 
its bottom. 

They had been under tremendous phy- 
sical exertion for over five hours, too ab- 
sorbed in their strange experiences to think 
of eating, and now all three agreed it was 
foolish to attempt to travel farther without 
food and rest. 


376 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


- “We had better wait here an hour or 
two,” the Doctor decided. “ Our size will 
soon remain constant and it won’t take us 
long to get down after we’ve rested.” 

“ I'm hungry,” suggested the Very Young 
Man, “how about you?” 

They ate and drank sparingly of the 
little store they had brought with them. 
The Doctor would not let them have much, 
both because he wanted to conserve their 
supply, and because he knew in their ex- 
hausted condition it would be bad for them 
to eat heartily. 

It was about two o’clock when they no- 
ticed that objects around them no longer 
were increasing in size. They had finished 
their meal and felt greatly refreshed. 

“ Things have stopped growing,” ob- 
served the Very Young Man. “ We’ve 
done four pills’ worth of the journey any- 
way,” he added facetiously. He rose to 
his feet, stretching. He felt sore and 
bruised all over, but with the meal and 
a little rest, not particularly tired. 

“ I move we go on down now,” he sug- 
gested, walking to the edge of the huge 
crevice in which they were sitting. “ It’s 
only a couple of thousand feet.” 

“ Perhaps we might as well,” agreed the 
Doctor, rising also. “ When we get to the 
floor of the valley, we can find a good spot 
and turn in for the night.” 

The incongruity of his last words with 
the scene around made the Doctor smile. 
Overhead the sky still showed a narrow 
ribbon of blue. Across the valley the sun- 
light sparkled on the yellowish crags of the 
rocky wall. In the shadow, on the side 
down which they were climbing, the rocks 
now shone distinctly phosphorescent, with 
a peculiar waviness of outline. 

“ Not much like either night or day, is 
it?” added the Doctor. “ We’ll have to get 
used to that.” 

They started off again, and in another 
two hours found themselves going down a 
gentle rocky slope and out upon the floor 
of the valley. 

“ We’re here at last,” said the Big Busi- 
ness Man wearily. 

The Very Young Man looked up the 
great, jagged precipice down which they 
had come, to where, far above, its edge 


against the strip of blue marked the sur- 
face of the ring. 

“ Some trip,” he remarked. “ I wouldn’t 
want to tackle that every day.” 

“ Four o’clock,” said the Doctor, “ the 
light up there looks just the same. I won- 
der what’s happened to George.” 

Neither of his companions answered him. 
The Big Business Man lay stretched full 
length upon the ground near by, and the 
Very Young Man still stood looking up 
the precipice, lost in thought. 

“ What a nice climb going back,” he 
suddenly remarked. 

The Doctor laughed. “ Don’t let’s worry 
about that, Jack. If you remember how 
Rogers described it, getting back is easier 
than getting in. But the main point now,” 
he added seriously, “ is for us to make sure 
of getting down to Arite as speedily as 
possible. 

The Very Young Man surveyed the bar- 
ren waste around them in dismay. The 
floor of the valley was strewn with even 
larger rocks and boulders than those on 
the surface above, and looked utterly path- 
less and desolate. “ What do we do first?” 
he asked dubiously. 

“ First,” said the Doctor, smiling at the 
Big Business Man, who lay upon his back 
staring up into the sky and paying no at- 
tention to them whatever, “ I think first we 
had better settle ourselves for a good long 
rest here.” 

“ If we stop at all, let’s sleep a while,” 
said the Very Young Man. “ A little rest 
only gets you stiff. It’s a pretty exposed 
place out here though, isn’t it, to sleep?” 
he added, thinking of the sparrow and the 
alligator. 

“ One of us will stay awake and watch,” 
answered the Doctor. 


CHAPTER VIII. 

THE PIT OF DARKNESS. 

A T the suggestion of the Very Young 
Man they located without much dif- 
ficulty a sort of cave amid the rocks, 
which offered shelter for their rest. Taking 
turns watching, they passed eight hours 
in fair comfort, and by noon next day, after 


THE PEOPLE OF THE GOLDEN ATOM. 


another frugal meal they felt thoroughly 
refreshed and eager to continue the journey. 

“ We sure are doing this classy,” ob- 
served the Very Young Man. “ Think of 
Rogers — all he could do was fall asleep 
when he couldn’t stay awake any more. 
Gosh, what chances he took!” 

“ We’re playing it safe,” agreed the Big 
Business Man. 

“ But we mustn’t take it too easy,” add- 
ed the Doctor. 

The Very Young Man stretched himself 
luxuriously and buckled his belt on tighter. 
“ Well, I’m ready for anything,” he an- 
nounced. “ What’s next?” 

The Doctor consulted his papers. “ We 
find the circular pit Rogers made in the 
scratch and we descend into it. We take 
twelve more pills at the edge of the pit,” 
he said. 

The Very Young Man leaped to the top 
of a rock and looked cut over the desolate 
waste helplessly. “ How are we going to 
find the pit,” he asked dubiously. “ It’s not 
in sight, that’s sure.” 

“ It’s down there — about five miles,” said 
the Doctor. “ I saw it yesterday as we 
came down.” 

“ That’s easy,” said the Very Young 
Man, and he started off enthusiastically, 
followed by the others. 

In less than two hours they found them- 
selves at the edge of the pit. It appeared 
almost circular in form, apparently about 
five miles across and its smooth, shining 
walls extended almost perpendicularly 
down into blackness. Somewhat awed by 
the task confronting them in getting down 
into this abyss, the three friends sat down 
near its brink to discuss their plan of 
action. 

“ We take twelve pills here,” said the 
Doctor. “ That ought to make us small 
enough to climb down into that.” 

“ Do you think we need so many?” 
asked the Big Business Man thoughtfully. 
“ You know, Frank, we’re making an awful 
lot of work for ourselves, playing this thing 
so absolutely safe. Think of what a dis- 
tance down that will be after we have got- 
ten as small as twelve pills will make us. 
It might take us days to get to the bot- 
tom.” 


377 

“ How did Rogers get down?” the Very 
Young Man wanted to know. 

“ He took the twelve pills here,” the 
Doctor answered. “ But as I understand 
it, he fell most of the way down while he 
was still big, and then got small afterward 
at the bottom.” 

“ I don’t know how’ about you,” said the 
Very Young Man dryly, “ but I’d much 
rather take three days to walk down than 
fall down in one day.” 

The Doctor smiled. “ I still think,” he 
said, “ that we had better stick to the di- 
rections Rogers left us. Then at least there 
is no danger of our getting lost in size. But 
I agree with you, Jack. I’d rather not fall 
down, even if it takes longer to walk.” 

“ I wonder — ” began the Big Business 
Man. “ You know I’ve been thinking — it 
does seem an awful waste of energy for us 
to let ourselves get smaller than absolutely 
necessary in climbing down these places. 
Maybe you don’t realize it.” 

“ I do,” said the Very Young Man, look- 
ing sorrowfully at the ragged shoes on his 
feet and the cuts and bruises on his legs. 

“ What I mean is — ” persisted the Big 
Business Man. “ How far do you suppose 
we have actually traveled since we started 
last night?” 

“ That’s pretty hard to estimate,” said 
the Doctor. “ We have walked perhaps 
fifteen miles altogether, besides the climb 
down. I suppose we actually came down 
five or she thousand feet.” 

“ And at the size we are now it would 
have been twelve thousand feet down, 
wouldn’t it?” 

“ Yes,” answered the Doctor, “ it 
would.” 

“ And just think,” went on the Big 
Business Man, “ right now, based on the 
size we were when we began, we’ve only 
gone some six feet altogether from the place 
we started.” 

“ And a sixteenth of an inch or less since 
we left the surface of the ring,” said the 
Doctor, smiling. 

“ Gee, that’s a weird thought,” the Very 
Young Man said, as he gazed in awe at the 
lofty heights about them. 

“ I’ve been thinking,” continued the Big 
Business Man. “ You say we must be 


378 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


careful not to get lost in size. Well, sup- 
pose instead of taking twelve pills here, 
we only take six. That should be enough 
to get us started — possibly enough to get 
us all the way down: Theg before we 
moved at all we could take the other six. 
That would keep it straight, wouldn’t it?” 
“ Great idea,” said the Very Young Man. 
“ I’m in favor of that.” 

“ It sounds feasible — certainly if we can 
get all the way down with six pills we will 
save a lot of climbing.” 

“ If six aren’t enough, we can easily take 
more,” added the Big Business Man. 

And so they decided only to take six pills 
of the drug and to get down to the bottom 
of the pit, if possible, without taking more. 
The pit, as they stood looking down into 
now, seemed quite impossible' of descent, 
for its almost perpendicular wall was 
smooth and shining as polished brass. 

They took the drug, standing close to- 
gether at the edge of the pit. Immediately 
began again the same crawling sensation 
underfoot, much more rapid this time, while 
all around them the rocks began very rap- 
idly increasing in size. 

The pit now seemed widening out at an 
astounding rate. In a few minutes it had 
broadened so that its opposite side could 
not be seen. The wall at the brink of 
which they stood had before curved in a 
great sweeping arc to enclose the circular 
hole; now it stretched in a nearly straight, 
unbroken line to the right and left as far 
as they could see. Beneath them lay only 
blackness; it w T as as though they were at 
the edge of the world. 

“ Good God, what a place to go down 
into,” gasped the Big Business Man, after 
they had been standing nearly half an hour 
in silence, appalled at the tremendous 
changes taking place around them. 

For some time past the wall before them 
had become sufficiently indented and 
broken to make possible their descent. It 
was the Doctor who first realized the time 
— or perhaps it should be said, the size — 
they were losing by their inactivity; and 
when with a few crisp words he brought 
them to themselves, they immediately 
started downward. 

For another six hours they traveled 


downward steadily, stopping only once to 
eat. The descent during this time was not 
unlike that down the side of the valley, 
although toward the last it began rapidly 
to grow less precipitous. 

They now found themselves confronted 
frequently with gentle slopes downward, 
half a mile or more in extent, and some- 
times by almost level places, succeeded by 
another sharp descent. 

'During this part of the trip they made 
more rapid progress than at any time since 
starting, the Very Young Man in his en- 
thusiasm at times running forward and 
then sitting down to wait for the others to 
overtake him. 

The light overhead gradually faded into 
the characteristic luminous blackness the 
Chemist had described. As it did so, the 
phosphorescent quality of the rocks greatly 
increased, or at least became more notice- 
able, so that the light illuminating the 
landscape became hardly less in volume, 
although totally different in quality. 

The ground underfoot and the rocks 
themselves had been steadily changing. It 
had lost now almost entirely its yellowish, 
metal look, and seemed to have more the 
quality of a gray opaque glass, or marble. 
It appeared rather smoother, too, than be- 
fore, although the huge boulders and loose- 
ly strewn rocks and pebbles still remained 
the characteristic feature of the landscape. 

The three men were still diminishing in 
size; in fact, at this time the last dose of 
the drug seemed to have attained its maxi- 
mum power, for objects around them 
appeared to be growing larger at a dizzying 
rate. They were getting used to this 
effect, however, to a great extent, and were 
no longer confused by the change as they 
had been before. 

It was the Big Business Man who first 
showed signs of weakening, and at the end 
of six hours or more of steady — and, to- 
ward the end, extremely rapid — traveling 
he finally threw himself down and declared 
he could go no farther. At this point they 
rested again several hours, taking turns at 
watch, and each of them betting some 
measure of sleep. Of the three, the Very 
Young Man appeared in the best condition, 
although possibly it was his enthusiasm 


THE PEOPLE OF THE GOLDEN ATOM. 


379 


that kept him from admitting even to him- 
self any serious physical distress. 

It was perhaps ten or twelve hours after 
they had taken the six pills that they were 
again ready to start downward. Before 
starting the three adventurers discussed 
earnestly the advisability of taking the 
other six pills. The action of the drug had 
ceased some time before. They decided 
not to, since apparently there was no dif- 
ficulty facing them at this part of the jour- 
ney, and decreasing their stature would 
only immeasurably lengthen the distance 
they had to go. 

They had been traveling downward, 
through a barren land that now showed 
little change of aspect, for hardly more 
than another hour, when suddenly, without 
warning, they came upon the tremendous 
glossy incline that they had been expecting 
to reach for some time. The rocks and 
boulders stopped abruptly, and they found 
at their feet, sloping downward at an angle 
of nearly forty-five degrees, a great, 
smooth plane. It extended as far as they 
could see both to the right and left and 
downward, at a slightly lessening angle, 
into the luminous darkness that now bound- 
ed their entire range of vision in every di- 
rection. 

This plane seemed distinctly of a dif- 
ferent substance than anything they had 
hitherto encountered. It was, as the 
Chemist had described it, apparently like a 
smooth black marble. Yet it was not so 
smooth to them now as he had pictured it, 
for its surface was sufficiently indented and 
ridged to afford foothold. 

They started down this plane gingerly, 
yet with an assumed boldness they were 
all of them far from feeling. It was slow 
work at first, and occasionally one or the 
other of them would slide headlong a score 
of feet, until a break in the smoothness 
brought him to a stop. Their rubber-soled 
shoes stood them in good stead here, for 
without the aid given by them this part 
of the journey would have been impossi- 
ble. 

For several hours they continued this 
form of descent. The incline grew con- 
stantly less steep, until finally they were 
able to walk down it quite comfortably. 


They stopped again to eat, and after trav- 
eling what ' seemed to them some fifteen 
miles from the top of the incline they 
finally reached its bottom. 

They seemed now to be upon a level 
floor — a ground of somewhat metallic 
quality such as they had become familiar 
with above. Only now there were no rocks 
or boulders, and the ground was smoother 
and with a peculiar corrugation. On one 
side lay the incline down which they had 
come. There was nothing but darkness to 
be seen in any other direction. Here they 
stopped again to rest and recuperate, and 
then they discussed earnestly their next 
movements. 

The Doctor, seated wearily upon the 
ground, consulted his memoranda earnest- 
ly. The Very Young Man sat close beside 
him. As usual the Big Business Man lay 
prone upon his back near by, waiting for 
their decision. 

“ Rogers wasn’t far from a forest when 
he got here,” said the Very Young Man, 
looking sidewise at the papers in the Doc- 
tor’s hand, “ And he speaks of a tiny 
range of hills; but we can’t see anything 
from here.” 

“ We may not be within many miles of 
where Rogers landed,” answered the Doc- 
tor. 

“ No reason why we should be, at that, 
is there? Do you think we’ll ever fmd 
Arite?” 

“ Don’t overlook the fact we’ve got six 
more pills to take here,” called the Big 
Business Man. 

“ That’s just what I was considering,” 
said the Doctor thoughtfully. “ There’s 
no use our doing anything until we have 
attained the right size. Those hills and 
the forest and river we are looking for 
might be here right at our feet and we 
couldn’t see them while we are as big as 
this.” 

“ We’d better take the pills and stay 
right here until their action wears off. I’m 
going to take a sleep,” said the Big Busi- 
ness Man. 

“ I think we might as well all sleep.” said 
the Doctor. “ There could not possibly be 
anything here to harm us.” 

They each took the six additional pills 


380 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


without further words. Physically ex- 
hausted as they were, and with the artificial 
drowsiness produced by the drug, they were 
all three in a few moments fast asleep. 


CHAPTER IX. 

THE WELCOME OF THE MASTER. 

I T was nearly twelve hours later, as their 
watches showed them, that the first of 
the weary adventurers awoke. The 
Very Young Man it was who first opened 
his eyes with a confused sense of feeling 
that he was in bed at home, and that this 
was the momentous day he was to start 
his journey into the ring. He sat up and 
rubbed his eyes vigorously to see more 
clearly his surroundings. 

Beside him lay his two friends, fast 
asleep. With returning consciousness came 
the memory of the events of the day and 
night before. The Very Young Man 
sprang to his feet and vigorously awoke his 
companions. 

The action of the drug again had ceased, 
and at first glance the scene seemed to have 
changed very little. The incline now was 
some distance away, although still visible, 
stretching up in a great arc and fading 
away into the blackness above. The ground 
beneath their feet still of its metallic qual- 
ity, appeared far rougher than before. 
The Very Young Man bent down and put 
his hand upon it. There was some form 
of vegetation there, and, leaning closer, he 
could see what appeared to be the ruins of 
a tiny forest, bent and trampled, the tree- 
trunks no larger than slender twigs that he 
could have snapped asunder easily between 
his fingers. 

“ Look at this,” he exclaimed. “ The 
woods — we’re here.” 

The others knelt down with him. 

J‘ Be careful,” cautioned the Doctor. 
“ Don’t move around. We must get 
smaller.” He drew the papers from his 
pocket. 

“ Rogers was in doubt about this quanti- 
ty to take,” he added. “ We should be 
now somewhere at the edge or in the forest 
he mentions. Yet we may be very far from 
the point at which he reached the bottom 


of that incline. I think, too, that we are 
somewhat larger than he was. Probably 
the strength of our drug differs from his to 
some extent.” 

“ How much should we take next, I won- 
der?” said the Big Business Man as he 
looked at his companions. 

The Doctor took a pill and crushed it in 
his hand. “ Let us take so much,” he-said, 
indicating a small ’portion of the powder. 
The others each crushed one of the pills 
and endeavored to take as nearly as pos- 
sible an equal amount. 

“ I’m hungry,” said the Very Young 
Man. “ Can we eat right after the pow- 
der?” 

“ I don’t think that should make any 
difference,” the Doctor answered, and so 
accustomed to the drug were they now 
that, quite nonchalantly, they sat down 
and ate. 

After a few moments it became evident 
that in spite of their care the amounts 
of the drug they had taken were far from 
equal. 

Before they had half finished eating, the 
Very Young Man was hardly more than a 
third the size of the Doctor, with the Big 
Business Man about half-way between. 
This predicament suddenly struck them as 
funny, and all three laughed heartily at the 
effect of the drug. 1 

“ Hey, you, hurry up, or you’ll never 
catch me,” shouted the Very Young Man 
gleefully. “Gosh, but you’re big'” He 
reached up and tried to touch the Doctor’s 
shoulder. Then, seeing the huge piece of 
chocolate in his friend’s hand and com- 
paring it with the little one in his own, 
he added: “ Trade you chocolate. That’s 
a regular meal you got there.” 

“ That’s a real idea,” said the Big Busi- 
ness Man, ceasing his laughter abruptly. 
“ Do you know, if we ever get really low 
on food, all we have to do is one of us 
stay big and his food would last the other 
tw r o a month.” 

“ Fine; but how about the big one?” 
asked the Very Young Man, grinning. 
“ He’d starve to death on that plan, would 
he not?” 

“ Well, then he could get much smaller 
than the other two, and they could feed 


THE PEOPLE OF THE GOLDEN ATOM. 


381 


him. It’s rather involved, I’ll admit, but 
you know what I mean,” the Big Business 
Man finished somewhat lamely. 

“ I’ve got a much better scheme than 
that,” said the Very Young Man. “ You 
let the food stay large and you get small. 
How about that?” he added triumphantly. 
Then he laid carefully on the ground beside 
him a bit of chocolate and a few of the 
hard crackers they were eating. “ Stay 
there, little friends, when you grow up, I’ll 
take you back,” he added in a gleeful tone 
of voice. 

“ Strange that should never have oc- 
curred to us,” said the Doctor. “ It’s a 
perfect way of replenishing our food sup- 
ply,” and quite seriously both he and the 
Big Business Man laid aside some of their 
food. 

“ Thank me for that brilliant idea,” said 
the Very Young Man. Then, as another 
thought occurred to him, he scratched his 
head lugubriously. “ Wouldn’t work very 
well if we were getting bigger, would it? 
Don’t let’s ever get separated from any 
food coming out.” 

The Doctor was gigantic now in propor- 
tion to the other two, and both he and the 
Big Business Man took a very small quan- 
tity more of the drug in an effort to 
equalize their rate of bodily reduction. 
They evidently hit it about right, for no 
further change in their relative size oc- 
curred. 

All this time the vegetation underneath 
them had been growing steadily larger. 
From tiny broken twigs it grew to sticks 
bigger than their fingers, then to the thick- 
ness of their arms. They moved slightly 
from time to time, letting it spread out 
from under them, or brushing it aside and 
clearing a space in which they could sit 
more comfortably. Still larger it grew un- 
til the tree-trunks, thick now almost as 
their bodies, were lying broken and twisted, 
all about them. Over to one side they 
could see, half a mile away, a place where 
the trees were still standing — slender sap- 
lings, they seemed, growing densely to- 
gether. 

In half an hour more the Very Young 
Man announced he had stopped getting 
smaller. The action of the drug ceased in 


the others a few minutes later. They were 
still not quite in their relative sizes, but a 
few grains of the powder quickly adjusted 
that. 

They now found themselves near the 
edge of what once was a great forest. Huge 
trees, whose trunks measured six feet or 
more in diameter, lay scattered about upon 
the ground; not a single one was left standi 
ing. In the distance they could see, some 
miles away, where Ihe untrodden forest 
began. 

They had replaced the food in theil! 
belts some time before, and now again they 
were ready to start. Suddenly the Very 
Young Man spied a huge, round, whitish- 
brown object lying beside a tree-trunk near 
by. He went over and stood beside it. 
Then he called his friends excitedly. It 
was irregularly spherical in shape and stood 
higher than his knees — a great, jagged ball. 
The Very Young Man bent down, broke 
off a piece of the ball, and, stuffing it into 
his mouth, began chewing with enthusi- 
asm. 

“ Now, what do you think of that?” he 
remarked with a grin. “ A cracker crumb 
I must have dropped when we first began 
lunch! ” 

They decided now to make for the near- 
est part of the unbroken forest. It was 
two hours before they reached it, for 
among the tangled mass of broken, fallen 
trees their progress was extremely difficult 
and slow. Once inside, among the stand- 
ing trees, they felt more lost than ever. 
They had followed implicitly the Chem- 
ist’s directions, and in general had encoun- 
tered the sort of country they expected. 
Nevertheless, they all three realized that 
it was probable the route they had followed 
coming in was quite different from that 
taken by the Chemist; and in what direc- 
tion lay their destination, and how far, they 
had not even the vaguest idea, but they 
were determined to go on. 

“ If we ever find this city of Arite, it ’ll 
be a miracle sure,” the Very Young Man 
remarked as they were walking along in 
silence. 

They had gone only a short distance 
farther when the Big Business Man, who 
was walking in front, stopped abruptly. 


382 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


“ What’s that?” he asked in a startled 
undertone. * 

They followed the direction of his hand, 
and saw, standing rigid against a tree- 
trunk ahead, the figure of a man little more 
than half as tall as themselves, his grayish 
body very nearly the color of the blue-gray 
tree behind him. 

The three adventurers stood motionless, 
staring in amazement. 

As the Big Business Man spoke, the 
little figure, which had evidently been 
watching them for some time, turned irreso- 
lutely as though about to run. Then with 
gathering courage it began walking slowly 
toward them, holding out its arms with the 
hands palm up. 

“ He’s friendly,” whispered the Very 
Young Man; and they waited, silent, as the 
man approached. 

As he came closer, they could see he was 
hardly more than a boy, perhaps twenty 
years of age. His lean, gray body was 
nearly naked. Around his waist he wore 
a drab-colored tunic, of a substance they 
could not identify. His feet and legs were 
bare. On his chest was strapped a thin 
stone plate, slightly convex. His thick, 
wavy, black hair, cut at the base of his 
neck, hung dose about his ears. His head 
was uncovered. His features were regular 
and pleasing; his smile showed an even row 
of very white teeth. 

The three men did not speak or move 
until, in a moment more, he stood directly 
before them, still holding out his hands 
palm up. Then abruptly he spoke. 

“ The Master welcomes his friends,” he 
said in a soft, musical voice. He gave the 
words a most curious accent and inflection, 
yet they were quite understandable to his 
listeners. 

“ The Master welcomes his friends,” he 
repeated, dropping his arms to his sides 
and smiling in a most friendly manner. 

The Very Young Man caught his breath. 
“ He’s been sent to meet us} he’s from 
Rogers. What do you think of that? 
We’re all right now!” he exclaimed ex- 
citedly. 

The Doctor held out his hand, and the 
Oroid, hesitating a moment in doubt, final- 
ly reached up and grasped it. 


“ Are you from Rogers?” asked the Doc- 
tor. 

The Oroid looked puzzled. Then he 
turned and flung out his arm in a sweeping 
gesture toward the deeper woods before 
them. “ Rogers— Master,” he said. 

“ You were waiting for us?” persisted 
the Doctor; but the other only shook his 
head and smiled his lack of comprehension. 

“ He only knows the first words he said,” 
the Big Business Man suggested. 

“ He must be from Rogers,” the Very 
Young Man put in. “ See, he wants us to 
go with him.” 

The Oroid was motioning them forward, 
holding out his hand as though to lead 
them. 

The Very Young Man started forward, 
but the Big Business Man held him back. 

“ Wait a moment,” he said. “ I don’t 
think we ought to go among these people 
as large as we are. Rogers is evidently 
alive and waiting for us. Why wouldn’t 
it be better to be about his size, instead of 
ten-foot giants as we would look now?” 

“ How do you know how big Rogers is?” 
asked the Very Young Man. 

“ I think that a good idea,” agreed the 
Doctor. “ Rogers described these Oroid 
men as being some six inches shorter than 
himself, on the average.” 

“ This one might be a pygmy, for all we 
know,” said the Very Young Man. 

“ We might chance it that he’s of normal 
size,” said the Doctor, smiling. “ I think 
we should make ourselves smaller.” 

The Oroid stood patiently by and 
watched them with interested eyes as each 
took a tiny pellet from a vial under his 
arm and touched it to his tongue. When 
they began to decrease in size his eyes 
widened with fright and his legs shook 
under him. But he stood his ground, evi- 
dently assured by their smiles and friendly 
gestures. 

In a few minutes the action of the drug 
was over, and they found themselves not 
more than a head taller than the Oroid. 
In this size he seemed to like them better, 
or at least he stood in far less awe of 
them, for now he seized them by the arms 
and pulled them forward vigorously. 
They laughingly yielded, and, led by this 


THE PEOPLE OF THE GOLDEN ATOM. 


383 


strange being of another world, they turned 
from the open places they had been follow- 
ing and plunged into the depths of the 
forest. 


CHAPTER X. 

THE CHEMIST AND HIS SON. 

F IR an hour or more the three adven- 
turers followed their strange guide in 
silence through the dense, trackless 
woods. He walked very rapidly, looking 
neither to the right nor to the left, finding 
his way apparently by an intuitive sense 
of direction. Occasionally he glanced back 
over his shoulder and smiled. 

Walking through the woods here was not 
difficult, and the party made rapid prog- 
ress. The huge, upstanding tree-trunks 
were devoid of limbs for a hundred feet 
or more above the ground. On some of 
them a luxuriant vine was growing— a vine 
that bore a profusion of little gray berries. 
In the branches high overhead a few birds 
flew to and fro, calling out at times with a 
soft, cooing note. The ground— a gray, 
finely powdered sandy loam — was carpeted 
with bluish, fallen leaves, sometimes with 
a species of blue moss, and occasional ferns 
of a like color. 

The forest was dense, deep, and silent; 
the tree branches overhead locked together 
in a solid canopy, shutting out the black 
sky above. Yet even in this seclusion the 
scene remained as light as it had been out- 
side the woods in the open. Darkness 
indeed was impossible in this land; under 
all circumstances the light seemed the same 
— neither too bright nor too dim— a com- 
fortable, steady glow, restful, almost hyp- 
notic in its sameness. 

They had traveled perhaps six miles from 
the point where they met their Oroid guide 
when suddenly the Very Young Man be- 
came aware that other Oroids were with 
them. Looking to one side, he saw two 
more of these strange gray men, silently 
stalking along, keeping pace with them. 
Turning, he made out still another, fol- 
lowing a short distance behind. The Very 
Young Man was startled, and hurriedly 
pointed them out to his companions. 


“ Wait,” called the Doctor to their 
youthful guide, and abruptly the party 
came to a halt. 

By signs they made their guide under- 
stand that they wanted these other men 
to come closer. The Oroid shouted to them 
in his own quaint tongue, words of a soft, 
liquid quality with a wistful sound — words 
wholly unintelligible to the adventurers. 

The men came forward diffidently, six 
of them, for three others appeared out of 
the shadows of the forest, and stood in a 
group, talking among themselves a little 
and smiling at their visitors. They were 
all dressed similarly to Lao — for such was 
the young Oroid’s name — and all of them 
older than he, and of nearly the same 
height. 

“ Do any of you speak English?” asked 
the Doctor, addressing them directly. 

Evidently they did not, for they answered 
only by shaking their heads and by more 
smiles. 

Then one of them spoke. “ The Master 
welcomes his friends,” he said. And all the 
others repeated it after him, like children 
in school repeating proudly a lesson newly 
learned. 

The Doctor and his two friends laughed 
heartily, and, completely reassured by this 
exhibition of their friendliness, they signi- 
fied to Lao that they were again ready to 
go forward. 

As they walked onward through the ap- 
parently endless and unchanging forest, 
surrounded by what the Very Young Man 
called their “ guard of honor,” they were 
joined from time to time by other Oroid 
men, all of whom seemed to know who 
they were and where they were going, and 
who fell silently into line with them. 
Within an hour their party numbered 
twenty or more. 

Seeing one of the natives stop a moment 
and snatch some berries from one of the 
vines with which many of the trees were 
encumbered, the Very Young Man did the 
same. He found the berries sweet and 
palatable, and he ate a quantity. Then, 
discovering he was hungry, he took some 
crackers from his belt and ate them walk- 
ing along. The Doctor and the Big Busi- 
ness Man ate also, for although they had 


384 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


not realized it, all three were actually fam- 
ished. 

Shortly after this the party came to a 
broad, smooth-flowing river, its banks lined 
with rushes, with here and there a little 
spot of gray, sandy beach. It was appar- 
ent from Lao’s signs that they must wait 
at this point for a boat to take them across. 
This they were glad enough to do, for all 
three had gone nearly to the limit of their 
strength. They drank deep of the pure 
river water, laved their aching limbs in it 
gratefully, and lay down, caring not a bit 
how long they were forced to wait. 

In perhaps another hour the boat ap- 
peared. It came from down the river, pro- 
pelled close inshore by two members of 
their own party who had gone to fetch it. 
At first the travelers thought it a long, 
oblong raft. Then as it came closer they 
could see it was constructed of three canoes, 
each about thirty feet long, hollowed out of 
tree-trunks. Over these w r as laid a plat- 
form of small trees hewn roughly into 
boards. The boat was propelled by long, 
slender poles in the hands of the two men, 
who, one on each side, dug them into the 
bed of the river and walked with them the 
length of the platform. 

Onto this boat the entire party crowded, 
and they were soon well out on the shallow 
river, headed for its opposite bank. The 
Very Young Man, seated at the front end 
of the platform with his legs dangling over 
and his feet only a few inches above the 
silver phosphorescence of the rippling water 
underneath, sighed luxuriously. 

“ This beats anything we’ve done yet,” 
he murmured. “ Gee, it’s nice here!” 

When they landed on the farther bank 
another group of natives were waiting for 
them. The party, thus strengthened to 
nearly forty, started off immediately into 
the forest, which on this side of the river 
appeared equally dense and trackless. 

They appeared now to be paralleling the 
course of the river a few 7 hundred yards back 
from its bank. After half an hour of this 
traveling they came abruptly to what at 
first appeared to be the mouth of a large 
cave, but which afterward proved to be a 
tunnel-like passageway. Into this opening 
the party unhesitatingly plunged, 


Within this tunnel, which sloped down- 
ward at a considerable angle, they made 
even more rapid progress than in the for- 
est above. The tunnel walls here w 7 ere 
perhaps twenty feet apart — walls of a glis- 
tening, radiant, crystalline rock. The roof 
of the passageway w 7 as fully twice as high 
as its width; its rocky floor was smooth and 
even. 

After a time this tunnel was crossed by 
another, somew 7 hat broader and higher, but 
in general of similar aspect. It, too, sloped 
downward, more abruptly from the inter- 
section. Into this latter passageway the 
party turned, still taking the downward 
course. 

As they progressed, many other passage- 
ways were crossed, the intersections of 
which were wide at the open spaces. Oc- 
casionally the travelers encountered other 
natives, all of them men, most of whom 
turned and followed them. 

The Big Business Man, after over an 
hour of this rapid walking downward, was 
again near the limit of his endurance, when 
the party, after crossing a broad, open 
square, came upon a sort of sleigh, with 
two animals harnessed to it. It was stand- 
ing at the intersection of a still broader, 
evidently more traveled passageway, and 
in it was an attendant, apparently fast 
asleep. 

Into this sleigh climbed the three travel- 
ers with their guide, Lao; and, driven by 
the attendant, they started down the 
broader tunnel at a rapid pace. The sleigh 
was balanced upon a broad single runner 
of polished stone, with a narrow, slightly 
shorter outrider on each side; it slid 
smoothly and easily on this runner over 
the equally smooth metallic-rock of the 
ground. 

The reindeerlike animals were harnessed 
by their heads to a single shaft. They were 
guided by a short, pointed pole in the hands 
of the driver, who, as occasion demanded, 
dug it vigorously into their flanks. 

In this manner the travelers rode per- 
haps half an hour more. The passageway 
sloped steeply downward, and they made 
good speed. Finally without warning, ex- 
cept by a sudden freshening of the air, they 
emerged into the open, and found them- 


THE PEOPLE OF THE GOLDEN ATOM. 


385 


selves facing a broad, rolling stretch of 
country, dotted here and there with trees — 
the country of the Oroids at last. 

For the first time since leaving their own 
world the adventurers found themselves 
amid surroundings that at least held some 
semblance of an aspect of familiarity. The 
scene they faced now might have been one 
of their own land viewed on an abnormally 
bright though moonless evening. 

For some miles they cofild see a rolling, 
open country, curving slightly upward into 
the dimness of the distance. At their right, 
close by, lay a broad lake, its surface 
wrinkled under a gentle breeze and gleam- 
ing bright as a great sheet of polished 
silver. 

Overhead hung a gray-blue, cloudless 
sky, studded with a myriad of faint, 
twinkling, golden-silver stars. On the lake 
shore lay a collection of houses, close to- 
gether at the water’s edge and spreading 
back thinly into the hills behind. This 
they knew to be Arite — the city of their 
destination. 

At the end of the tunnel they left the 
sleigh, and, turning down the gentle 
sloping hillside, leisurely approached the 
city. They were part way across an open 
field separating them from the nearest 
houses, when they saw a group of figures 
coming across the field toward them. This 
group stopped when still a few hundred 
yards away, only two of the figures con- 
tinuing to come forward. They came on- 
ward steadily, the tall figure of a man 
clothed in white, and by his side a slender, 
graceful boy. 

In a moment more Lao, walking in front 
of the Doctor and his two companions, 
stopped suddenly and, turning to face 
them, said quietly, “ The Master.” 

The three travelers, with their hearts 
pounding, paused an instant. Then with 
a shout the Very Young Man dashed for- 
ward, followed by his two companions. 

“It’s Rogers — it’s Rogers!” he called; 
and in a moment more the three men were 
beside the Chemist, shaking his hand and 
pouring at him excitedly their words of 
greeting. 

The Chemist welcomed them heartily, 
but with a quiet, curious air of dignity that 
5 A-S 


they did not Remember he possessed before. 
He seemed to have aged considerably since 
they had last seen him. The lines in his 
face had deepened; the hair on his temples 
was white. He seemed also to be rather 
taller than they remembered him, and ceri 
tainly he was stouter. 

He was dressed in a long, flowing robe 
of white cloth, gathered in at the waist by 
a girdle, from which hung a short sword, 
apparently of gold or of beaten brass. His 
legs were bare; on his feet he wore a form 
of sandal with leather thongs crossing his 
insteps. His hair grew long over his ears 
and was cut off at the shoulder-line in the 
fashion of the natives. 

When the first words of greeting were 
over, the Chemist turned to the boy, who 
was standing apart, watching them with 
big, interested eyes. 

“ My friends,” he said quietly, yet with 
a little underlying note of pride in his 
voice, “ this is my son.” I 

The boy approached deferentially. He 
was apparently about ten or eleven years 
of age, tall as his father’^ shoulder nearly, 
extremely slight of build, yet with a body 
perfectly proportioned. He was dressed in 
a white robe similar to his father’s, only 
shorter, ending at his knees. His skin was 
of a curious, smooth, milky whiteness, lack- 
ing the gray harder look of that of the 
native men, and with just a touch of the 
iridescent quality possessed by the women. 
His features were cast in a delicate mold, 
pretty enough almost to be called girlish, 
yet with a firm squareness of chin distinct- 
ly masculine. 

His eyes were blue; his thick, wavy hair, 
falling to his shoulders, was a chestnut 
brown. His demeanor was graceful and 
dignified, yet with a touch of ingenuous- 
ness that marked him for the care-free child 
he really was. He held out his hands palms 
up as he approached. 

“ My name is Loto,” he said in a sweet, 
soft voice, with perfect self-possession. 
“ I’m glad to meet my father’s friends.” 
He spoke English with just a trace Of the 
liquid quality that characterized his moth- 
er’s tongue. 

“ You are late getting here,” remarked 
the Chemist with a smile, as the three 


386 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


travelers, completely surprised by this sud- 
den introduction, gravely shook hands with 
the boy. 

During this time the young Oroid who 
had guided them down from the forest 
above the tunnels, had been standing 
respectfully behind them, a few feet away. 
A short distance farther on several small 
groups of natives were gathered, watching 
the strangers. With a few swift words 
Loto now dismissed their guide, who bowed 
low with his hands to his forehead and left 
them. 

Led by the Chemist, they continued on 
. down into the city, talking earnestly, tell- 
ing him the details of their trip. The na- 
tives followed them as they moved forward, 
and as they entered the city others looked 
at them curiously and, the Very Young 
Man thought, with a little hostility, yet 
always from a respectful distance. Evi- 
dently it was night, or at least the time of 
sleep at this hour, for the streets they 
passed through were nearly deserted. 


CHAPTER XI. 

THE CITY OF ARITE. 

T HE city of Arite, as it looked to them 
now, was strange beyond anything 
they had ever seen, but still by no 
means as extraordinary as they had ex- 
pected it would be. The streets through 
which they walked were broad and straight, 
and were crossed by others at regular in- 
tervals of two or three hundred feet. 
These streets paralleled each other with 
mathematical regularity. The city thus was 
laid out most orderly, but with one pe- 
culiarity; the streets did not run in two 
directions crossing each other at right an- 
gles, but in three, each inclined to an equal 
degree with the others. The blocks of 
houses between them, therefore, were cut 
into diamond-shaped sections and into tri- 
angles, never into squares or oblongs. 

Most of the streets seemed paved with 
large, flat gray blocks of a substance re- 
sembling highly polished stone, or a form 
of opaque glass. There were no sidewalks, 
but close up before the more pretentious 
of the houses, small trees were growing. 


The houses themselves were generally 
triangular or diamond-shaped, following the 
slope of the streets. They were, most of 
them, but two stories in height, with flat 
roofs on some of which flowers and trellised 
vines were growing. They were built prin- 
cipally of the same smooth, gray blocks 
with which the streets were paved. Their 
windows were large and numerous, without 
window-panes, but closed now, nearly all 
of them by shining, silvery curtains that 
looked as though they might have been 
woven from the metal itself. The doors 
were of heavy metal, suggesting brass or 
gold. On some of the houses tiny low- 
railed balconies hung from the upper win- 
dows out over the street. 

The party proceeded quietly through this 
now deserted city, crossing a large tree- 
lined square, or park, that by the conflu- 
ence of many streets seemed to mark its 
center, and turned finally into another 
diagonal street that dropped swiftly down 
toward the lake front. At the edge of a 
promontory this street abruptly terminated 
in a broad flight of steps leading down to a 
little beach on the lake shore perhaps a 
hundred feet below. 

The Chemist turned sharp to the right 
at the head of these steps, and, passing 
through the opened gateway of an arch 
in a low gray wall, led his friends into a 
garden in which were growing a profusion 
of flowers. These flowers, they noticed, 
were most of them blue or gray, or of a 
pale silvery whiteness, lending to the 
scenes a peculiarly wan, wistful appear- 
ance, yet one of extraordinary, quite un- 
earthly beauty. 

Through the garden a little gray-pebbled 
path wound back to where a house stood, 
nearly hidden in a grove of trees, upon a 
bluff directly overlooking the lake. 

“ My home, gentlemen,” said the Chem- 
ist, with a wave of his hand. 

As they approached the house they 
heard, coming from within, the mellow 
voice of a woman singing — an odd little 
minor theme, with a quaint, lilting rhythm, 
and words they could not distinguish. Ac- 
companying the voice were the delicate 
tones of some stringed instrument suggest- 
ing a harp. 


THE PEOPLE OF THE GOLDEN ATOM. 


387 


“ We are expected,” remarked the Chem- 
ist with a smile. “ Lylda is still up, wait- 
ing for us.” The Very Youftg Man’s heart 
gave a leap at the mention of the name. 

From the outside, the Chemist’s house 
resembled many of the larger ones they 
had seen as they came through the city. 
It was considerably more pretentious than 
any they had yet noticed, diamond-shaped 
— that is to say, a flattened oblong — two 
stories in height and built of large blocks 
of the gray polished stone. 

Unlike the other houses, its sides were 
not bare, but were partly covered by a 
luxuriant growth of vines and trellised 
flowers. There were no balconies under its 
windows, except on the lake side. There, 
at the height of the second story, a covered 
balcony broad enough almost to be called 
a veranda, stretched the full width of the 
house. 

A broad door of brass, fronting the 
garden, stood partly open, and the Chemist 
pushed it wide and ushered in his friends. 
They found themselves now in a triangular 
hallway, or lobby, with an open arch in 
both its other sides giving passage into 
rooms beyond. Through one of these arch- 
ways the Chemist led them, into what evi- 
dently was the main living-room of the 
dwelling. 

It was a high-ceilinged room nearly tri- 
angular in shape, .thirty feet possibly at its 
greatest width. In one wall were set sev- 
eral silvery-curtained windows, opening out 
onto the lake. On the other side was a 
broad 'fireplace and hearth, with another 
archway beside it leading farther into the 
house. The walls of the room 'were lined 
with small gray tiles; the floor also was 
tiled with gray and white, set in design. 

On the floor were spread several large 
rugs, apparently made of grass or fiber. 
'The walls were bare, except between the 
windows, where two long, narrow, heavily 
embroidered strips of golden cloth were 
hanging. 

In the center of the room stood a cir- 
cular stone table, its top a highly polished 
black slab of stone. This table was set 
now for a meal, with golden metal dishes, 
huge metal goblets of a like color, and 
beautifully wrought table utensils, also of 


gold. Around the table were several small 
chairs, made of wicker. In the sear of each 
lay a padded fiber cushion, and over the 
back was hung a small piece of embroid- 
ered cloth. 

With the exception of these chairs and 
table, the room was practically devoid of 
furniture. Against one wall was a smaller 
table of stone, with' a few misceljaneous 
objects on its top, and under each window 
stood a small white stone bench. 

A fire glowed in the fireplace grate— a 
fire that burned without flame. On the 
hearth before it, reclining on large silvery 
cushions, was a woman holding in her 
hands a small stringed instrument like a 
tiny harp or lyre. When the men entered 
the room she laid her instrument aside 
and rose to her feet. 

As she stood there for an instant, ex- 
pectant, with the light of welcome in her 
eyes, the three strangers beheld what to 
them seemed the most perfect vision of 
feminine loveliness they had ever seen. 

The woman’s age was at first glance in- 
determinate. By her face, her long, slen- 
der, yet well-rounded neck, and the slim 
curves of her girlish figure, she might have 
been hardly more than twenty. Yet in her 
bearing there w T as that indefinable poise and 
dignity that besppke the more mature, older 
woman. 

She was about five feet tall, with a slen- 
der, almost fragile, yet perfectly rounded 
body. Her dress consisted of a single 
flowing garment of light-blue silk, reaching 
from the shoulders to just above her knees. 
It was girdled at the waist by a thick gold- 
en cord that hung with golden tasseled 
pendants at her side. 

A narrower golden cord crossed her 
breast and shoulders. Her arms, legs, and 
shoulders were bare. Her skin was smooth 
as satin, milky white, and suffused with the 
delicate tints of many colors. Her hair 
was thick and very black; it was twisted 
into two tresses that fell forward over each 
shoulder nearly to her waist and ended with 
a little silver ribbon and tassel tied near the 
bottom. 

Her face was a delicate oval. Her lips 
were full and of a color for which in 
English there is no name. It would have 


388 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


been red doubtless by sunlight in the world 
above, but here in this silver light of 
phosphorescence, the color red, as we see 
it, was impossible. 

Her nose was small, of Grecian type. 
Her slate-gray eyes were rather large, very 
slightly upturned at the corners, giving just 
a touch of the look of our women of the 
Orient. Her lashes were long and very 
black. In conversation she lowered them 
at times with a charming combination of 
feminine humility and a touch of coquetry. 
Her gaze from under them had often a 
peculiar look of melting softness, yet al- 
ways it was direct and honest. 

Such was the woman who quietly stood 
beside her hearth, waiting to welcome these 
strange guests from another world. 

As the men entered through the archway, 
the boy Loto pushed quickly past them in 
his eagerness to get ahead, and, rushing 
across the room, threw himself into the 
woman’s arms crying happily, “ Mita, 
mita.” 

The woman kissed him affectionately. 
Then, before she had time to speak, the 
boy pulled her forward, holding her tightly 
by one hand. 

“ This is my mother,” he said with a 
pretty little gesture. “ Her name is 
Lylda.” 

The woman loosened herself from his 
grasp with a smile of amusement, and, na- 
tive fashion, bowed low with her hands to 
her forehead. 

“ My husband’s friends are welcome,” 
she said simply. Her voice was soft and 
musical. She spoke English perfectly, with 
an intonation of which the most cultured 
woman might be proud, but with a foreign 
accent much more noticeable than that of 
her son. 

“ A very long time we have been waiting 
for you,” she added; and then, as an after- 
thought, she impulsively offered them her 
hand in their own manner. 

The Chemist kissed his wife quietly. In 
spite of the presence of strangers, for a 
moment she dropped her reserve, her arms 
went up around his neck, and she clung 
to him an instant. Gently putting her 
down, the Chemist turned to his friends. 

“ I think Lylda has supper waiting,” he 


said. Then, as he looked at their torn, 
woolen suits that once were white, and the 
ragged shoes upon their feet, he added with 
a smile, “ But I think I can make you much 
more comfortable first.” 

He led them up a broad, curving flight 
of stone steps to a room above, where they 
found a shallow pool of water, sunk below 
the level of the floor. Here he left them 
to bathe, getting them meanwhile robes 
similar to his own, with which to replace 
their own soiled garments. In a little 
while, much refreshed, they descended to 
the room below, where Lylda had supper 
ready upon the table waiting for them. 

“ Qnly a little while ago my father and 
Aura left,” said Lylda, as they sat down to 
eat. 

“ Lylda’s younger sister,” the Chemist 
explained. “ She lives with her father here 
in Arite.” 

The Very Young Man parted his lips to 
speak. Then, with heightened color in his 
cheeks, he closed them again. 

They were deftly served at supper by a 
little native girl w r ho was dressed in a short 
tunic reaching from waist to knees, with 
circular disks of gold covering her breasts. 
There was cooked meat for the meal, a 
white, starchy form of vegetable somewhat 
resembling a potato, a number of delicious 
fruits of unfamiliar variety, and for drink 
the juice of a fruit that tasted more like 
cider than anything they could name. 

At the table Loto perched himself beside 
the Very Young Man, for whom he seemed 
to have taken a sudden fancy. 

“ I like you,” he said suddenly, during 
a lull in the talk. 

“ I like you, too,” answered the Very 
Young Man. 

“ Aura is very beautiful ; you’ll like 
her.” 

“ I’m sure I will,” the Very Young Man 
agreed soberly. 

“ What’s your name?” persisted the boy. 

“ My name’s Jack. And I’m glad you 
like me. I think we’re friends, don’t you?” 

And so they became firm friends, and, 
as far as circumstances would permit, in- 
separable companions. 

Lylda presided over the supper with the 
charming grace of a competent hostess. 


THE PEOPLE OF THE GOLDEN ATOM. 


She spoke seldom, yet when the conversa- 
tion turned to the great world above in 
which her husband was born, she ques- 
tioned intelligently and with eager interest. 
Evidently she had a considerable knowl- 
edge of the subject, but with an almost 
childish insatiable curiosity she sought from 
her guests more intimate details of the 
world they lived in. 

When in lighter vein their talk ran into 
comments upon the social life of their own 
world, Lylda’s ready wit, combined with 
her ingenuous simplicity, put to them many 
questions which made the giving of an un- 


38a 

derstandable answer sometimes amusingly, 
difficult. 

When the meal was over the three trav- 
elers found themselves very sleepy, and all 
of them were glad when the Chemist sug- 
gested that they retire almost immediately, 
He led them again to the upper story into 
the bedroom they were to occupy. There, 
on the low bedsteads, soft with many 
quilted coverings, they passed the remain-! 
der of the time of sleep in dreamless 
slumber, utterly worn out by their journey, 
nor guessing what the morning would bring 
forth. 


TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK. Don’t forget this magazine is issued weekly, and 
that you will get the continuation of this story without waiting a month. 


U TJ U 


LOVE’S ALPHABET 

BY CLINTON SCOLLARD 


CYLVIA, the winsome pet, 

^ Bids me sing Love’s Alphabet. 
Can I frown, and answer nay? 
Soothly, not to Sylvia! 

That were folly, so, you see, 

Here it is, from A to Z: 

A comes first, and that’s her air, 
Delicate and debonair! 

B — that means her beauty. She 
Is “ the fairest fair ” to me! 

C — her cheeks, blush-roses they, 

Or the dawning flush of day! 

D — behold her dainty dress, 

Modest in its modishness! 

E — can mean naught save her eyes 
Tinted like the twilight skies! 

F — her foot so shapely, hid 
In its tiny case of kid! 

G — her grace! It is a thing 
Subtle as the grace of spring! 

H — must be her hat or hair; 

Both, methinks, are like a snare! 

I — her independence is; 

Yet who would not call her his? 

J — that is her jollity; 

Truth, she sometimes “ jollies ” me! 
K — her kindliness! No sting 
Slips her lips for anything! 

L — her love, beyond all hap! 

Would I were the lucky chap! 

M — her mouth, which Cupid wrought 
After giving it much thought! 


'N — her nose— admire it, pray, 
Though a trifle retrousse! 

O — her ornaments I’ll call; 

She is fairer than them all! 

P — her purse — I fear it’s light; , 

Yet I’d dare, if I but might! 

Q — is for her quiet moods 
When but one — that’s me — intrudes! 

R — her roguishness, no doubt! 

You should watch the shy minx pout! 
S— her speech! ’Tis more like pearls 
Than is any other girl’s! 

T — her teeth! It’s pat, I see, 

To repeat the simile! 

U— the universal cheer 
That she spreads afar and near! 

V — 'her voice — a very dream; 

Melody of bird and stream! 

W — ah, that’s her way, 

And she w r ants it every day! 

X — is Chi in Greek. Must be 
That’s her strange chi-rography! 

Y — her youth! Against all odds, 

It’s a guerdon from the gods! 

Z — her zest— 'her endless zest — 

For she’s always at her best! 

“ There, miss, now that I have done, 
Tell me what reward I’ve won!” 

She, with dimple-deepening chin: 

“ I can’t see where Love comes in, 
You’ve just sung some girl!” 

“ That’s true! 
You are Love, dear Sylvia, you!” 


by^ Victor RoMSse^LM 

Author of " Draft of Eternity," " The Diamond Demons,” " Midsummer Madness,” etc. 


CHAPTER XV. 

THE FALL OF THE FAITHLESS. 

S LOWLY the darkness cleared away. I 
heard shouting all around me, and 
through the drifting spirals which the 
fading blackness assumed I was aware of 
confused struggling in the quadrangle. 

Then I perceived Mnur with a band of 
Wallaby Priests about me. 

“Quick, my Lord Gowani!” he cried. 
“ The Ellabortans are in battle against the 
horsemen of Thaxas, and we must save the 
day. Leave the princess in the charge of 
these two of my priests, who will know 
where to guard her, and come with me, for 
our people are hard pressed.” 

Even as he spoke I saw a squadron of 
Thaxas’s cavalry, upon their ferocious, 
three-toed horses, surge over the mob, which 
fled in all directions. The inner wall was 
lined with Ellabortans, shooting arrows 
into the Avian horsemen, which, however, 
had little effect against the formidable 
•leather and iron armor which protected man 
and beast, and only goaded the huge mon- 
sters into greater fury. 

It was a terrible sight to see the horses 
tearing with their great jaws at the flying 
Ellabortans, and doing hardly less damage 
than the riders with their sabers, while their 
fearful three-toed hoofs split skull and face 
together as they brought them down upon 
the prostrate men beneath them. 

Reluctantly, but inevitably, I consigned 


Hita to the care of Mnur’s two men. She 
smiled at me bravely. “ You must leave 
me, my lord,” she said. “ For, if Ptuth 
and Thaxas win, all is lost, and our love, 
too.” 

I pressed her to me for a moment, and 
then the two Wallaby Priests extended their 
wings and, each holding one of Hita’s 
hands, rose with her into the air. I watched 
her as she ascended to the temple top, and 
then a drift of darkness swept across her, 
and, when it drifted away, she was no long- 
er to be seen. 

Next moment Mnur and I had risen 
above the quadrangle, surrounded by a 
band of our Wallaby Priests. I had dis- 
covered, in the brief space of time during 
which I had flown, that I could direct my 
course instinctively with my arms and legs, 
much as a swimmer does. 

A confused picture lay beneath us. The 
Ellabortans had turned out en masse to aid 
in the revolution, and the streets of the low- 
er city were packed with a great armed 
mob, carrying spears, swords, bows and ar- 
rows, and shields, all surging up toward the 
wall. 

Unfortunately, this was a period where 
armor had outstripped propulsive weapons 
in development — that is to say, the bow. 
Fendika appeared to be on the eve of the 
discovery of firearms, or something of that 
nature, although at present explosives rvere 
known only in the form of a sort of coarse 
gunpowder, used in construction work. 


This story began in the All-Story Weekly for January 17. 

390 


THE EYE OF BALAMOK. 


391 


It was curious that the Fendeks should 
have invented the dynamo, and learned 
laws of light which were wholly unknown 
to us, while in other respects the people 
were semibarbarians. But of course their 
situation in the interior of the planet would 
turn their energies in this direction. 

Thus the arrows did little harm, but the 
fury of the assaults soon won the inner 
wall. The Ellabortans also held the outer 
walls of the capital, from which they suc- 
cessfully repelled the hordes of Thaxas’s 
cavalry, who seemed to fill the plain. 

But the Avian cavalry were supreme in- 
side the inner keep, and it was here that 
the decision must be made. And there was 
no doubt that Thaxas was gaining the day. 
Once he had the inner part of the city under 
control, the Ellabortans would be crushed 
like the meat in a sandwich between the 
Avians within and without. Then a terrible 
revenge would be wrought upon them. 

Unfortunately there was no doubt but 
Thaxas was gaining the day. The cavalry 
swept in furious and untiring charges across 
the square, driving the last vestige of the de- 
fense before them. And behind them, gath- 
ered about Ptuth aid Thafti, I saw the col- 
umns of red-cloaked swordsmen, ready to 
regain the inner walls with a rush, as soon 
as Thaxas had crushed out all resistance. 

High overhead, but flying singly, for the 
most part, were priests of the Serpent, di- 
recting the charges of the Avian cavalry 
with signs, and dropping dark bombs wher- 
ever a charge or rally of the Ellabortans 
temporarily changed the issue. 

However, only a few of the Serpent 
Priests had managed to obtain wings, pre- 
sumably from some reserve store which we 
had not discovered, and there were forty .of 
us. Sailing overhead in squadron forma- 
tion, we forced them to flee before us. 

But one, a huge man, carrying a sword 
in his hand, suddenly turned as we went 
sweeping past, and made a furious charge 
at me. I was trying desperately to draw 
a light bomb, but I was compelled to turn 
all my thoughts to the endeavor to evade 
him. Twice the sword came within an inch 
of my heart, and we circled round about 
each other for half a minute before I flung 
the bomb and broke it against his breast. 


In that flash of blinding sunlight he 
seemed to crumple up. I saw his hair catch 
fire, his clothing begin to char. He yelled 
out of his twisted lips; then he collapsed 
and went crashing down upon the court be- 
low, a shapeless mass of burned flesh and 
crumpled iron. 

Now, at Mnur’s command, we wheeled, 
and let our light bombs fall among the 
horsemen of Thaxas, as they sw r ept over 
the quadrangle, driving the last vestiges of 
the defense before them. I saw the Ella- 
bortans on the walls bending their futile 
bows in vain. The horsemen drove madly 
up the ramp which led to the summit from 
the interior, Thaxas leading them. They 
had almost gained the top when our bombs 
fell. 

Instantly the situation was reversed. A 
panic broke out among the horses, which 
bolted wildly along the ramparts, the Ella- 
bortans flinging themselves to the stones 
beneath them, and, as they passed over 
them, rising to hamstring them, or thrust 
their long spears into their bellies, or pull 
the horsemen from their backs and plunge 
their swords through leather corselet and 
body. 

A squadron, however, managed to regain 
the quadrangle, and, before they could dis- 
perse, we flung our bombs again. 

And that restored the fortunes of the 
day. With shrieks of pain and terror, 
the monsters flung their - riders and bolted 
in all directions, racing round and round the 
quadrangle until they dropped exhausted, 
or dying under the withering light. And, 
with shouts of execration, the Ellabortans 
leaped down from the walls and rushed 
upon the red-cloaked swordsmen. 

It was now impossible for us to drop 
further bombs, for fear of destroying our 
own men. We could only watch; and there 
followed as gallant a feat of arms as I 
have eveF seen. 

For, though outnumbered by a score to 
one, the red-cloaked courtiers gathered 
about Thafti and Ptuth. Their weapons, 
used with terrible effect, worked havoc 
among their assailants, who soon lay in a 
ring of dead about them. Foot by foot they 
fought their way toward the walls. Among 
them I saw Thaxas, dismounted, his helmet 


392 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


awry, his armor bloodstained, his sword 
dripping red. He leaped forward alone, 
scaled the rampart, and held it single- 
handed against the snarling, crouching, fear- 
ful Ellabortans about him, until, with a 
rush and a cheer, the red-cloaks followed 
him, bearing Thafti and Ptuth among them, 
and emerged into the lower city. 

Within the streets, a compact legion, 
they easily scattered the mob, which fled 
before them, and so, even as we watched, 
they gained the outer wall, forced it, and 
were received by the horsemen with a wild 
cheer that reached us where we flew over the 
quadrangle. 

But Ellaborta was ours, and the rem- 
nant of the Avian horsemen within were at 
our mercy. They came forward with hands 
upheld in token of surrender. We lodged 
them as prisoners in the keep, under the 
inner gate. The ferocious horses, being un- 
tamable except by the Avians, who knew 
the secret of subduing them, were put out 
of their suffering. 

My first thought was, of course, for Hita, 
She had been safely hidden in a secret room 
in the Wallaby Temple, and our reunion, 
though we could find time only for a brief 
exchange of words, filled me with joy and 
resolution. 

We placed strong forces of trained men 
upon the outer walls, and our fears of an 
immediate assault disappeared within the 
next hour, when we saw the vast hosts of 
Thaxas effecting a retirement to their camp 
upon the river, some two miles from the 
city. From this point bodies pushed out to 
right and left, until they were posted on all 
the main roads leading out of Ellaborta. 
Within a psus the capital was surrounded 
and in a condition of siege. 


CHAPTER XVI. 

LIFE AND DEATH. 

O UR position was thus a perilous one, 
one, for there was little store of food 
within the walls, and, whether or 
not Ptuth guessed it, we had used up all 
our light bombs. My first act, therefore, 
w y as to summon the scientists of the capital 
into the chamber where were the dynamos. 


It was soon seen that it would be an easy 
matter to control the light supply, for the 
machines were automatic in their action and 
would run indefinitely. But not even the 
Wallaby Priest who had once served the 
Serpent knew the secret of manufacturing 
the bombs. 

This would make our situation more pre- 
carious daily, for there was little doubt that 
Ptuth could set up a laboratory and fashion 
both bombs and wings. We should have 
secured his priests when we had captured 
them. 

I sent out criers to summon a popular 
meeting in the quadrangle for two psus 
later, resolving that the Ellabortans should 
ratify any decision arrived at. And I must 
mention something — a trivial matter, but 
one which rather depressed the spirits of 
the people, who looked upon it as an omen 
of ill. 

It was the custom to keep the two dino- 
saurs beneath the grille supplied with vic- 
tims, chosen from among petty malefac- 
tors. These men were tossed alive to them 
twice weekly, and it was this custom that 
the people demanded should be abolished 
forever. They surged into the temple, 
shouting for the destruction of the mon- 
sters. 

The grille was quickly pried up with 
crowbars, and men descended, carrying 
swords and torches. The floor of the crypt 
was white with human bones, but the dino- 
saurs could not be found. 

In vain the upper parts of the temple, 
and all the rooms over the altar were 
searched and ransacked. The dinosaurs 
had evidently ascended through the hollow 
serpent, and made their escape by way of 
the roof; but all search proved fruitless. 

I thought they might have destroyed each 
other when they met within the gold ser- 
pent, but, after the mechanism that con- 
trolled it had been stopped, a venturesome 
lad ascended, and emerged at the upper 
orifice, reporting that the gold shell was 
empty. 

At our council, the very first thing de- 
cided was that the Serpent worship should 
be driven out of Fendika for ever, and 
that of the Unknown God established as the 
state religion. The lesser priesthoods, how- 


THE EYE OF BALAMOK. 


393 


ever, were to be allowed to exit under the 
rule of the Wallabies, being of the old Fen- 
dek order before the Serpent Priests had 
overcome the country. This compromise, 
ill pleased Mnur, who had expected to be 
proclaimed chief pontiff, and he submitted 
with an ill grace. 

Then Hita and I, standing in the center 
of the quadrangle, were acclaimed by wildly 
cheering crowds. And the old hag, Ros 
Marra, being led forward by Nasmaxa, pub- 
licly acknowledged that she had lied at the 
bidding of Ptuth, and in fear of him. 

Nasmaxa and I had previously decided 
that so long as the land was in the throes 
of civil conflict, it would not be advisable 
for Hita and me to be married, as jealousy 
of a stranger might cause a change in the 
fickle Fendek mind. But now, being chief 
pontiff, Nasmaxa solemnly reaffirmed our 
betrothal, and proposed that, after the over- 
throw of Thafti and the Avians, we should 
rule the land jointly. 

At that there was thunderous applause. 
I recall Hita, in her blue cloak, wearing 
the electrum circlet of plain gold that be- 
tokened rulership about her forehead, ad- 
dressing the crowd in simple and dignified 
words, surrounded by the exiles. She told 
them that the time had come to expel the 
Serpent priesthood forever from the land, 
and to reassert the supremacy of the Fen- 
deks over their hereditary enemies of the 
Avian province. 

And so the meeting dissolved, and every 
man went to his post, and preparations for 
the coming fight wyre made. Swords were 
hammered out on anvils, and trained officers 
endeavored to form an invincible army out 
of the Ellabortan footmen. If this suc- 
ceeded, there was little doubt that we could 
overcome Thafti and Ptuth, even with the 
aid of the Avian horse. 

I was assigned new quarters in the palace. 
And that night — strictly, I should say, to 
about what corresponded to our midnight — 
when the alternate psus of torpor held the 
city, Nasmaxa came to me. 

I was struck by the old man’s look of 
utter weariness. He seemed to have aged 
even in the few weeks I had known him. 

“ My Lord Gowani, would you have your 
heart’s desire?” he asked. 


“ Who would not?” I returned. 

“ Listen then. Although statecraft for- 
bids your marriage with Hita to be made 
publicly, what is there to prevent a private 
ceremony, according to our laws, so that 
your mind may be at ease, knowing that she 
is wholly yours? Besides, my time is come, 
and I would see you united before I die.” 

I sprang to my feet, wide awake, despite 
the torpor which had overcome me — for by 
this time I had fallen into Fendek habits, 
though, where they rested merely, I actually 
slept. 

He smiled and laid his hand restrainingly 
upon my arm. “ Hope not for overmuch,” 
he said, “ for in truth I do not know what 
the ultimate issue shall be. But at least 
I shall know before I die that the princess 
is mated with you, whom I have come to 
look on as a son. 

“ Soon I go to my rest, but I shall re- 
turn. For we know that it is our fate, when 
we are dead, to be born again in other 
bodies, and perchance next time it will be 
in the world above us.” 

“ Many psus must pass before you die, 
Nasmaka,” I answered. 

He said nothing to that, but led me out 
of the palace, past the guards, drowsing at 
their posts, across the quadrangle, and into 
the Temple of the Eagle, on the further 
sidte of the Serpent Temple. The empty fane 
— for, of course, there were no males left 
alive to worship there — was a plain struc- 
ture of white stone, with an altar at the 
far end, and an electrum eagle, with wings 
extended for flight, above it. 

Before the altar, wearing her blue cloak, 
stood Hita. At her side was an Eagle Priest 
— the sole surviving one, who remained as 
guardian of the empty temple. 

Hita came forward, and, as I took her 
hands, a vivid blush suffused her cheeks, 
and her eyes, raised for an instant timidly 
to mine, dropped again. 

“ Nasmaxa has told you, my lord?” she 
murmured. 

“ He has promised me all that my heart 
longs for,” I answered ardently. 

“ My dear lord, before this takes place I 
must say something you do not know,” said 
Hita. “ Nor even you, 0 Nasmaxa, for I 
have kept this hidden until now even from 


394 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


you, fearing to distress you and cause you 
anxiety.” 

As she spoke I saw a look of fear creep 
into her eyes. 

“ Ptuth has revealed to me,” she said, 

“ that it is prophesied that my Lord Go- 
wani and I shall indeed be happy for a 
brief -space, but after that he shall lose me. 
Yet not forever, for some clay we shall be 
reunited; but not untilall this has passed 
away. And more than this I know not. 

“ And know 7 , my Lord Gowani, that there 
is a means devised whereby the Princess of 
the Fendeks who shall be in mortal peril 
may find respite. And this secret has been 
from of old in the charge of the Eagle 
Priest. What it is, I know not, but he 
knows; and at the appointed time, by its 
means he shall deliver me.” 

“ Aye,” croaked the old man, ‘‘ it is in 
my keeping for the use of the princess when- 
ever she shall demand it.” 

“ Or I?” I asked. 

“ If you demand it in her name, my Lord 
Gowani,” he answered. 

I made light of Hita’s fears, and told her 
that Ptuth lied, and that he could no more 
foresee the future than he could unveil the 
dreaded Eye of Balamok. But Hita lis- 
tened without encouragement. 

“ 0 my dear lord,” she answered, “ it 
should be known to you that Ptuth, the 
magician, has lived since the beginnings of 
time. Nor can he ever die, and, even were 
he slain, he would create a new body for 
himself by his arts. And by this secret I 
must be renewed unto eternal youth when 
I grow old, until the dubious prophecy be 
fulfilled.” 

“ A long time hence, beloved,” I an^ 
swered, thinking of the many years that 
must elapse before old age stole on us. 

But she only glanced at me with a troub- 
led brow, until Nasmaxa, coming forward, 
pronounced the words that secretly united 
us. And then, as if her fear had gone, she' 
let me take her in my arms. 

Standing thus, we heard Nasmaxa’s bene- 
diction die away. Suddenly there came an 
exclamation from the Eagle Priest. We 
turned hastily, to find the old man lying 
upon the ground. 

He opened his eyes as w 7 e knelt over 


him. “ My time has come, as I foresaw, 
0 my Lord Gowani,” he said simply. 
“ May the Unknown God preserve you — < 
and my princess — again the wiles of Ptuth 
—against — ” 

Nasmaxa died. 


CHAPTER XVII. 

THE BOOST OF THAXAS. 

D URING the successive psits ama (ten 
psus periods) we perfected our plans 
of defense. Hopes began to run high 
within Ellaborta, for the enemy remained 
inactive, and only those of us who under- 
stood the powers of Ptuth feared the out- 
come. 

It was mortally certain that he would at- 
tack as soon as he had fashioned new wings 
'and prepared light bombs, and in this pre- 
dicament it was resolved*to send a trust- 
worthy messenger at once to summon Sar, 
the Aonorian prince, to lead his footmen 
to our rescue. Then, by a simultaneous 
sally from the gates, we could hope to place 
Thafti and Thaxas at our mercy. 

But the question whom to send was a 
perplexity. He would have to fly, and this 
limited us to the choice of one or other of 
the twoscore Wallaby Priests. Now the Wal- 
laby Priests were clearly disaffected since 
the establishment of the Unknown God 
in place of the Wallaby God, as they had 
expected. Indeed, Mnur's attitude toward 
me was constrained and distant. I did not 
distrust him, but it added a new trouble to 
the many that beset us. 

About the fifth psus aim an embassy ar- 
rived under the llama flag, the symbol of 
truce, and, when it was admitted within 
the walls, we were astounded to discover 
that it consisted of Thaxas himself, with 
three retainers. 

So great w 7 as the awe of the great Avian 
, prince, that the people followed only at a 
great distance. Thaxas was hated more 
than any of our opponents, on account of 
the cruelties of his horsemen. Nevertheless, 
my impression of him had been a favorable 
one, and it was not lessened when I saw him 
stand before Queen Hita in the Council 
Hall. 


THE EYE OF BALAMOK. 


395 


“Greetings, queen!” he began — and at 
that recognition of her a murmur of sur- 
prise ran through the courtiers. “ I am an 
Avian, and our speech is short, and not 
honeycombed with praise like that of the 
Fendeks, though here there is need of it.” 

And he bowed low before her, and his 
compliment left us agape with wonder. 

“ You know, O queen,” he continued, 
“ that I had no part in your exile, nor care 
I whether you or your sister reign, so far 
as my desires rule me. I was betrothed to 
the Princess Regnant after your father’s 
death; therefore, since I do not believe the 
story of the old hag, Ros Marra, I claim 
you as my queen.” 

At this the courtiers were fairly stupe- 
fied, and could only stare at Thaxas, won- 
dering what was to follow. 

“ For a contract cannot be annulled,” 
continued the Avian Prince. “ My task is 
but to support the rightful queen, my duty 
and my right to mate with her; but I tell 
you, Hita ” — here he made a sudden, violent 
gesture with his gloved hand — I would 
sooner be false to my word, my vow, my 
duty, and the great Avian God than mate 
with Thafti. 

“ My desire is for you, and, where my 
desire is, there my will is. Aye, and my 
will is unbreakable. Therefore, bid this 
foreign lord depart in safety out of the Fen- 
dek realm, and let the and have peace.” 

He ended, and a murmur of admiration 
stirred the counselors. For the man spoke 
honest and true, and there was a dignity in 
him commanding admiration, while the 
vehemence of his words commanded : -even 
sympathy. 

Hita rose from her throne, and I think 
she was a little touched by Thaxas’s out- 
spokenness. 

“ I have heard you, Prince Thaxas,” she 
said. “ Truly, I would that all my coun- 
selors were as frank and outspoken. But 
what you say may never be, for I had no 
part in my father’s contract, and no con- 
tract can annul a woman’s wishes in such 
a matter as marriage.” 

Thaxas glared at her. “ Aye, queen, well 
I know it is this foreign lord, this impostor, 
who hath won thy heart,” he answered. 
“ Yet, I swear that within psns ama hak 


(five days) I will have him torn limb from 
limb and feed the serpents with his flesh. 
That I, Thaxas, swear. And as for you ” — 
he swung upon the assemblage — “ I will 
level your proud city flat with the earth, 
and pass the plowshare over it.” 

He bowed to Hita and stalked away, 
leaving us silent and troubled. Especially 
myself, for I well knew that this placed 
the responsibility for the future on my own 
head. 

I think the counselors perceived that, too, 
and pondered, for a few of them eyed me 
askance as we broke up. And it became 
clearer than ever, what with this new event, 
added to the disaffection of Mnur, that mat- 
ters must be brought speedily to an issue. 

In fact, the mission of Thaxas so infuri- 
ated the people that they surrounded the 
Council Hall, clamoring to be led out 
against theAvian hosts. They looked warlike 
enough, and, being well-armed and led, it 
seemed to us might effect at least a sortie 
that would prove the forerunner of a general 
victory. Accordingly it was decided that a 
surprise attack should be made that night 
upon the main host of the Avians, encamped 
upon the river bank. 

At the same time we selected one of 
Mnur’s priests, and gave him letters for 
Sar, who lay on his frontier with his army, 
telling him that Ellaborta was closely in- 
vested, and that he must march to our re- 
lief immediately. 

We watched him rise from the quadran- 
gle and wing his way beyond the walls, 
where the low-lying mists hid him from 
view. And then we set about our prepara- 
tions for the sortie. 

Five thousand men, under K’hauls, a vet- 
eran campaigner, were to move in a single 
column upon the main camp of the Avians. 
Smaller bodies of about three thousand 
apiece were to make feints against the other 
positions along the main roads. I myself, 
with a reserve force of ten thousand, was 
to string out my men obliquely along the 
river bank, thus keeping them in touch with 
the capital, in case of need, and being, at 
the same time, able to unite forces with 
K’hauls should his attack prove successful 
beyond expectation. 

It was a splendid sight to see the bodies 


396 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


of Fendek warriors marching out, confi- 
dent of victory, ami to hear their ringing 
applause as Hita, clothed in her blue cloak, 
and wearing the royal diadem, stood on the 
ramparts, surrounded by her counselors. 
Not a man but would have died for her! 

I knew that I filled her thoughts, and I re- 
solved that I would make Thaxas’s boast 
meaningless, and strike a blow that should 
decide the fortunes of the day. 

Before us, across the meadows, marched 
K'hauls’s men, first a line of veterans, 
armed with long spears, then two lines of 
youths, with short stabbing-spears, with 
which to break the columns of our oppo- 
nents; following them the main body, armed 
with the wide, straight Fendek swords, cap- 
able of effecting terrible execution. 

My men, on the contrary, were all 
swordsmen, and mostly veterans of other 
wars. I divided them into three parts. -One 
body, under Nohaddyii, a brave and skilful 
old general, I placed between the main gate 
of the capital and the road that ran north- 
east, in support of one of the subsidiary 
forces. The second, under Hamul, I left 
encamped about a half-mile from the city, 
to hold the principal bridge which gave 
us touch with our right flank. The third 
I myself commanded, following about a 
half-mile behind K’hauls. 

Overhead flew the winged priests, but 
useful only for reconnoissance, since our 
light bombs were exhausted. 

At length, having reached the place ap- 
pointed, I ordered my men to rest, and took 
my seat upon a small mound in front of 
them, which partly concealed their number 
from any Avian airmen. Here and there I 
saw a winged priest of the enemy floating 
high above both lines, but he always fled 
when tackled by our own Wallaby fliers; 
and very soon the clouds descended so low 
that aerial reconnoissance proved impos- 
sible. 

There was, of course, no possibility of 
surprise in that perpetual day. We had 
moved out during the last psus of work, 
and we had a psus to wait before attack- 
ing, since a breach of this resting period 
would have been considered an abominable 
atrocity; furthermore, it was very doubtful 
whether the languid warriors could have 


been driven to the attack during the rest 
psus, even had they been willing to violate 
what was regarded as a divine law. 

My thoughts were strange as I sat there 
alone, watching the weary soldiers, devoid 
of all interest or thought, resting in their 
habitual torpor. I thought of Hita princi- 
pally, of Sewell, wondering where he was; 
then of old Joe, who dreamed that he had 
been a king, and wondered whether by any 
chance he had entered this subterranean 
country. And I, too, drowsed, until at last 
the thrill of the psus of battle ran through 
my veins, and, turning, I perceived my men 
rising, and gathering up their corselets to 
strap them on, and taking their swords in 
hand. 


CHAPTER XVIII. 

A PYRRHIC VICTORY. 

F ROM where I stood I could see the 
panorama of the whole battle-field. 
On our extreme right, across the 
river, our outposts were already driving in 
the skirmishers of Thaxas's cavalry, who 
circled about them on their ferocious 
horses, but dared not charge those lines of 
well-armed spearmen. A few of the hostile 
forces were reconnoitering the bridge, but, 
finding it well guarded, also withdrew. 

In front of me the hostile camp w T as 
throwing out line after line of horsemen, 
who circled to right and left to find the 
weak places in our forces. Before Thaxas’s 
camn an enormous force of horsemen was 
marshaling, and I fancied that the rider 
who moved up and down before them was 
Thaxas himself. 

Between ourselves and them, K’hauls was 
quietly and resolutely marshaling his own 
men into column to receive the attack. 

It came. With wild cheers, and the flash 
of swords, and the thunder of thousands of 
hoofs, the Avian horsemen rode straight at 
the massed column before them. I caught 
my breath as I saw that unbroken leading 
line make straight for our spearsmen. In 
another moment the fight was joined. 

Yells dinned in our ears, the clash of 
sword on spear; a cloud of heavy dust cov- 
ered the face of the plain. For whole min- 


THE EYE OF BALAMOK. 


397 


utes that mad medley continued, a dust 
whirl like a cyclone, broken by serpentine 
gleams of light. 

Now all along our front the issue was 
joined. Simultaneously with the charge of 
Thaxas I saw a large force of horsemen 
riding toward the bridge. But I had only 
time to glance at them and pray the Fen- 
deks would hold. Then, to my dismay, as 
the dust began to settle, I saw K’hauls’ 
line cleft asunder. It was falling back sul- 
lenly on either wing, in two irregularly 
shaped masses; and straight through the 
cleft, yelling, Thaxas rode at the head of 
his men. 

I gave the sharp command, and our forces 
moved forward in unison and lined the 
crest. Beneath us I saw the Avian cavalry 
riding straight toward us, Thaxas leading 
them, his helmet half sheared away. Now 
they were within fifty paces. And Thaxas 
knew me. I heard his roar of challenge. 
I saw his monster horse uprear. 

Now! Khoom ! — go at them. We were 
at them and among them, slashing, receiv- 
ing blows and fighting like madmen in the 
midst of those thunderous hoofs. One slit 
my arm from shoulder to the wrist, as if 
the three toes had been razors. I felt noth- 
ing. Time and again I ran at Thaxas, but 
before we could more than exchange blows 
men ran between us. The Fendeks were 
fighting loyally to the death. 

Dust all about us, everywhere confusion, 
and no longer the merest semblance of a 
line. The battle had resolved itself into a 
series of individual contests. But presently 
the tumult thinned, and in the subsiding 
dust I saw that Thaxas had ridden clear 
through us, even as he had ridden through 
K’hauls’. But there was this difference: 
then his horsemen and their beasts had 
been fresh and flushed with victory; now 
their strength and ardor were spent, and 
nearly all the horses were suffering from 
wounds. The field was a swamp of purple 
blood. 

Thaxas was reforming. We far outnum- 
bered him, but by this time, what with our 
own broken ranks and stragglers from 
K’hauls’ men, it was impossible to present 
any sort of front to the Avians. Yet we 
surrounded them. 


I saw the victory ours. For the body at 
the bridge had held victoriously, and now 
the old veteran, Nohaddyii, was coming up 
to our support. I saw the gleam of his 
helmets, and heard the shouting of his fresh 
troops. 

Then I saw Thafti among the soldiers of 
Thaxas, wearing a long veil, flying in the 
air. She was pointing toward us and in- 
citing her men to the charge, while Thaxas 
seemed to sulk beside her. 

Once more there came the thunder of 
the charge. Once more the savage horses 
were upon us, straining with outstretched 
necks and snapping jaws. Again the play 
of sword and spear, again the dreaded 
Avian war-cry. Again the dust, and once 
again I found Thaxas and lost him, found 
him, lost him finally, and found myself with 
dripping sword standing alone in a sort of 
center of the dust-storm, while the roar 
of the battle raged unseen about me. 

Suddenly I was aware of Sewell at my 
side. He was dismounted, clutching at the 
bridle of a spent horse, on which was Thafti. 

“Take her, Gowan!” he shrieked. “I 
have made her prisoner for you. And take 
me, too. That was my game. Don’t you 
see, Gowan? I was helping you — ” 

Thafti raised her veil, and her hideous 
face was stern, and almost beautiful with 
command and spirit. 

Now men came running up. They knew 
them and, shouting eagerly at such prizes, 
surrounded them. I called one of my cap- 
tains and ordered him to convey the pris- 
oners with a strong guard to Ellaborta. 

Then I turned to the battle, which was 
dwindling into the distance. Nohaddyii 
was at my side, and pointing with his 
sword: “The day is ours, my lord!” he 
shouted. 

As the dust settled I saw Thaxas retiring 
with the remnant of his forces. 

“ Now, my lord, let us charge their camp, 
and they are beaten beyond hope!” old 
Nohaddyii cried. 

But even as he spoke there came a re- 
newed tumult from our right wing, and to 
my dismay I saw the Avian horsemen 
swarming over the bridge, and Hamul’s 
troops borne backward, fighting bravely but 
impotently against overwhelming numbers, 


398 


ALL- STORY WEEKLY, 


If the Avians could hold our communi- 
cations at their central point, the day was 
not won, but lost. 

I at once despatched Nohaddyii with his 
reenforcements to retake the bridge. But 
as his men attacked they became mingled 
with the dispersing remnants of Hamul’s 
men, and, in their confusion, the Avians 
rode them down easily. 

Simultaneously Thaxas launched forth a 
last attack upon us. But seeing that we 
formed front to receive him, he declined the 
shock and spread fanwise along our front 
and toward our left, seeking to roll up our 
flank with an enveloping movement. Mean- 
while Nohaddyii’s men were in full flight 
back toward Ellaborta. I saw the brave, 
old warrior, scorning to flee, turn, face the 
victorious enemy alone, and receive his 
death- thrust. 

There was nothing to do but give the 
order to retire, for now our communications 
were cut by the loss of the bridge. The 
Avians, swarming across, had already joined 
Thaxas, and we were completely encircled 
by the savage horsemen, who made des- 
perate rushes to throw us into confusion, 
and so complete their victory. 

In' this they W’ere disappointed, for my 
men held steadily. And yard by yard we 
fought our passage back toward the capital, 
seeing clearly the ramparts packed with 
spectators and encouraged by their cries. 
We left a bloody trail behind us, and at the 
last, seeing that we were unshakable, the 
Avian cavalry sullenly withdrew a little 
more than bowshot range from the walls. 

The gates opened to receive us. In the 
entrance stood Hita among her counselors. 
And, to my amazement, instead of re- 
proaches for a lost fight, we were received 
with thunderous applause. 

“Bravely fought, my Lord Gowani!” 
Hita cried. “ Assuredly one never thought 
our Ellabortan swordsmen would make so 
brave a show' against invincible Thaxas.” 

And after all the battle had been in no 
sense a defeat save one. Thaxas had left 
nine thousand men upon the field ; our own 
losses were little more than half as many. 
But for the forcing of the bridge we had 
won the day completely. And that, as we 
learned afterward, was by the disaffection of 
a small body of Fendek auxiliaries, men 


from another city, who had broken before 
the first charge of the Avian horsemen. 

Yet in one respect Thaxas had won the 
day. For now the lines of communication 
between our forces were obliterated, and we 
had been driven back within the shelter of 
the walls. And on the next day Thaxas 
advanced his camp until almost within bow- 
shot of us. 1 

But we had Thafti. The princess w’as 
already lodged, with Sewell, her captor, 
in the dungeon beneath the inner gate, and 
w'as to be brought, after the rest psus, 
before Hita and her council. 

So our return to the inner city was more 
a march of triumph than an acknowledg- 
ment of failure. Thaxas had won a victory 
of the Phyrric kind; another such and his 
army would exist no longer. Already half 
his men were dismounted and resolved into 
infantry. 

But what was Ptuth doing? How soon 
might we expect his dreaded fire-bombs to 
come into play, and his winged warriors to 
scatter destruction over Ellaborta? 

Would they come before Sar, Prince of 
the Oonorians, arrived to aid us? 

The answer was to be supplied sooner 
than any of us dreamed. 


CHAPTER XIX. 

A LITTLE HIDDEN DAGGER. 

A T the end of the rest psus we assembled 
^ in the council hall, which was packed 
with a multitude. The scarlet cloak 
of Thafti gleamed in the midst of all. 

Beside her stood Sewell, and even those 
who hated Thafti most pitied her, to have 
been made prisoner by such an act of 
baseness. 

And I could see that Sewell's treacherous 
act lessened my own prestige among the 
Fendeks, for the man had been my comrade, 
and I saw doubtful looks cast at me, and 
realized by how slender a thread I held my 
place — and that thread but a woman’s love 
and faith in me. 

Mnur arose. “ It is the custom to inter- 
rogate the captives,” he said. “ Therefore 
let the Lord Seoul explain how he comes 
here with the Princess Thafti and claims to 
be her captor.” 


THE EYE OF BALAMOK. 


399 


Sewell spoke boldly, apparently without 
the consciousness of shame committed. 
“ Listen, then, O queen, and lords of the 
council — and you, Gowan, who came into 
this land with me in friendship,” he began. 

“ Not many psus since my Lord Gowani 
was betrothed to Thafti, Queen of the Fen- 
deks — aye, and protested not at all, though 
his heart had already turned toward you, O 
queen. Therefore, seeing that we are equals 
in our own country, I sought the hand of 
your sister, O Thafti, who was then merely 
a princess. And this, too, was accorded me? 
Then in the temple the Prince Thaxas 
claimed you, Thafti, and this honor was 
accorded him. And then, seeing that treach- 
ery surrounded us everywhere, I, too, re- 
solved to play a part. Therefore, to save 
my life, and place it at your service, Queen 
Hita, whose hand was given me, I feigned 
to ally myself with Thafti here. And I 
knew that by this means I should be able to 
deliver her into your hands. So, having 
proved myself a loyal servant, I ask that 
my service may be rewarded.” 

At this a great hubbub broke out among 
the populace, and the council, too, some 
protesting that Sewell was a double-dyed 
traitor, and others that he had been hardly 
treated, and had acted loyally. And one 
by one we gave our opinion, some favoring 
Sewell’s release and reward, and others de- 
manding that he be put to death or driven 
from the city. Finally came my turn to 
speak, and I was silent some time, for I 
did not know how to answer. 

I knew Sewell to be a coward, traitor, 
and murderer, but this knowledge of mine 
had no bearing upon present circumstances; 
and then, despite all this, we had come into 
Annoryii together. 

“ O queen!” I said at last, “ he has per- 
formed a service and come of his free will 
into Ellaborta. Therefore no punishment 
can befall him. But place no trust in him.” 

Hita arose. “ It shall be as you say, my 
Lord Gowani,” she answered. And at that 
black looks were cast at me by all, for it 
was seen that Hita’s judgment favored 
mine. 

“ Soon,” whispered one of the priests of 
Mnur,” we shall be altogether under the 
foot of this stranger.” 


Hita turned to Thafti. “ Greetings to 
you, sister,” she said. “ Not many psus arm 
since I stood before you in this place; there- 
fore my heart inclines to pity for you.” 

“ I seek no pity,” returned Thafti 
haughtily. 

“ Nevertheless,” said Hita proudly, “ you 
are a captive, and in my hands. What have 
you to say, sister, concerning the lie that 
Ptuth, the magician, put into Ros Marra’s 
mouth concerning your birth and mine, 
usurper?” 

With that Thafti stiffened herself with 
that characteristic gesture of contempt and 
pflde that I had observed before. She stood 
erect before the queen and flung her veil 
aside. And there was hardly a man present 
but winced at the sight of her. And Thafti 
turned her eyes on each in turn, as if she 
wished to drain the cup of humiliation to 
the dregs. 

“ O queen! O Hita! O sister! ” she began 
in a melodious voice that gradually in- 
creased in tension and in volume until it 
filled the hall with melody, “ sister, we two 
were born under different moods of our 
Lord Balamok. For I go veiled, like him, 
because my face is hideous in the sight of 
men, while you are fair and good to look 
upon. And yet I have a heart — strangely, 
for it should have been seared, like my face, 
by suffering and the contempt of man. 

“ Many times it has been sought to give 
me in betrothal to some prince, and each 
time he has scorned me. Aye, and did not 
the blind prince of the Lassayii send word 
that, though his eyes were sightless, his ears 
were open to the repute in which men held 
each other? A delicate hint to send his 
liege, truly. 

“ Therefore, sister, because the love of 
man was denied me, I sought power. I 
sought to rule this realm. Worthily I ruled 
it.” 

Here, to our consternation, a voice 
among the spectators in the vast council 
hall called: “ Aye! ” And two or three more 
took up the shout before it was drowned 
by the disapprobation of the rest. And 
then a storm of cheers broke out for Hita. 
And again two or three called for Thafti. 
Thafti listened and bowed ironically toward 
the spectators. 


400 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


* 

“ I thank the few of my former subjects 
who remember their past faith and loyalty,” 
she said. “ But I speak to you, sister. 
When it was proposed that you should be 
put to death, I forbade it, though I knew, 
in accordance with the old prophecy, that 
you should supplant me, and that my death 
should come through you in some measure. 

“ I have shown you clemency in my day 
of power, but were I queen in Ellaborta 
now, I swear that you should die under 
torture, and your carcass should be cast 
to the serpents.” 

There was a sudden, tremulous stir, tj^n 
breathless silence in the council hall at these 
bold words. The seamed face of Thafti 
looked steadily into that of Hita. And I 
saw that Hita’s gentleness masked a no less 
indomitable will. 

For Hita’s face was red with anger, and 
her mien was now no less haughty than 
Thafti’s. 

“ It is ill for you, a captive, to threaten 
me, a queen,” said Hita, “ Perchance I 
may forget the appeal for pity that you 
have made; also, that we had the same 
father.” 

“ I do not ask your pity, sister,” returned 
Thafti steadily. “ Yet you shall know that 
even I, who veil my face because of its 
abomination — I have a heart and loved. 
Once I loved — one man whom I shall love 
all the short remainder of my life — even my 
Lord Gowani here!” 

She paused, and in that dramatic moment 
she held the assembly spellbound. And, 
with her woman’s heart, even Hita was 
softening into pity — that pity that Thafti 
scorned. 

As for myself, I felt unutterably foolish. 

Suddenly, without a word, Thafti caught 
a little hidden dagger out of her robes and 
thrust it into her body. The gush of blood 
was dark upon her crimson cloak. 

For another moment she stood, looking 
defiantly upon her sister. And then her 
eyes sought mine. And it seemed to me in 
that moment that love made Thafti almost 
beautiful. 

Then, as the counselors rushed toward 
her, Thafti sank to the floor, sobbed, and 
lay still. The blade had pierced her heart. 

Hita cried out, and then, forgetting their 


enmity, forgetting that she was queen, she 
kneeled at Thafti’s side, holding her head 
upon her knees. She looked up at me with 
anguish in her eyes. 

Suddenly shouts from without stirred us 
to other action. The crowd was fleeing in 
panic from the assembly chamber. As some 
of the counselors clutched at me, reluctant- 
ly I left Hita beside her sister and went out. 

High overhead appeared one of the flying 
Serpent Priests, and as he swooped toward 
us it could be seen that the llama flag of 
*truce, upon a long stick, hung from his 
breastplate. 

Lower he dropped ; and now we saw that 
he held something in his left hand. He 
raised and hurled it, and wfe saw it curve 
through the air and smash upon the stones 
of the quadrangle. 

It was a man’s severed head. It was the 
head of the Wallaby Priest, our messenger 
to Sar. 

Hamul came up to me. “ This means the 
end of all unless — ” he said, and led me to 
the ramparts. Looking down I saw the 
warriors of Thaxas encamped all about the 
walls. 

“ Unless some other messenger fly swift- 
ly,” I interpreted. “ Whom can we trust?” 

And, seeing his eyes bent in silent defer- 
ence on mine, I understood. 

“ How long will it take to reach the 
Aonorian border?” I inquired. 

“ With wings, psus hak, if one fly 
steadily.” 

“ I will go,” I returned. “ Inform the 
council.” 

And without hesitation I made my way to 
the palace and strapped my wings upon me. 


CHAPTER XX. 

THE EYE OF BALAMOK. 

H ARDLY five minutes elapsed between 
my leaving the council hall and my 
flight toward Aonoria. And fortu- 
nately I had started during the beginning 
of the rest psus. Already an apathy was 
falling upon the mob below. They dropped 
down where they stood, and lay in dreamy, 
careless meditation. Inside the council hall 
I knew Hita w T ould recline beside her sister’s 


f 


THE EYE OF BALAMOK. 


401 


body, and the councilors in their seats until 
the rest psus ended. 

As for myself, I was not yet so accli- 
mated to this custom but that I could read- 
ily shake off the languor stealing over me. 
And I knew that this time would render me 
safe from pursuit by any of the Serpent 
Priests. I rose high into the air, and then 
directed my course, straight as an arrow, 
and almost as swift, over the horsemen of 
Thaxas, encamped beneath me. winging my 
course toward the Aonorian border. 

Soon Ellabcrta was but a blur in the 
distance, and in a little while it disappeared. 
For hours I flew over the tops of the great 
fern-trees, suffering no fatigue, since the 
action of the wings was automatic. Reso- 
lutely I fought back the sleep that weighed 
upon my eyelids. Hours passed— days, per- 
haps; I dozed in the air. waking with a 
start to find myself falling, orientating my- 
self by a strange instinct which, in the 
absence of any stars or visible sun, seemed 
common to all of us in Annoryii. 

At last I discerned through my bleared 
eyelids the fires of a great host spread out 
over a level plain beneath me. I dropped 
into Sar’s camp. 

The sight of those thousands of spears- 
men, young, vigorous and disciplined, re- 
vived my courage. I was conducted to Sar, 
who crossed his hands on his breast and 
then took mine, and listened while I re- 
counted briefly the,events of the past days. 

“ Rumors of this have already reached 
me,” Sar answered, “ and I was but await- 
ing the summons to lead my troops across 
the border, as Queen Hita commanded me. 
They shall start within an hour. Do you, 
my Lord Gowani, rest and accompany us 
then?” 

But I shook my head, and told him that I 
must return immediately. Weary and worn 
though I was, I felt that I could not close 
my eyes until I had carried back news of 
my success to Hita. 

At that Sar looked at me very strangely. 
And this is a curious thing, for which I can- 
not account: as he looked at me I seemed 
to see in him the lineaments of a young 
prospector whom I had known in Kalgoor- 
lie a year or two before — a young man who 
had gone” on a prospecting trip and never 
6 A-S 


returned. Some had thought him lost in 
the desert, others that he had gone out by 
another route. 

It was the merest fancy, of course, and 
next moment Sar was saying: 

“ My Lord Gowani, what came you into 
this country for, and why do you linger? 
Ethnabasca is no further from here than 
Ellaborta. If you flew there resolutely and 
made your way up the mountain, and so 
emerged into the world without, none would 
hinder you. 

“ My father, who was versed in much 
wise lore, told me that it is a secret know 
to the Priests of the Sun, who rule in 
Zelryii, my capital, that every man has two 
lives: a waking one, and one of his psus 
rest. And in the psus rest the waking life 
seems but a dream. .And in the waking 
life the psus rest seems but a dream. And 
which is the dream, and which the reality, 
none but the gods know. 

“ Nevertheless, if one tarry too lopg in 
either state, the gods who attend the man, 
waking or dreaming, may seize him utterly, 
so that his alternate life is lost. Oh, my 
Lord Gowani. if I were you I would leave 
Annoryii, where all these combats, battles, 
rivalries and treacheries may be no more 
than a dream of your psus rest, and seek the 
land of your birth.” 

A strange philosophy. "And he went on 
to say something which I do not wholly 
recall; something to the effect that the 
whole drama of life is but illusion, staged 
for the benefit of the individual soul in 
its progress from life to life. I think he 
tried to convey the impression that all that 
had happened in Annoryii was a sort of 
play for my benefit, a sort of morality play 
for the soul. I listened with impatient, 
listless interest. 

For, Heavens, how real it all was!— Hita 
and the traitor Sewell, Ptuth, Thakas, and 
that great host of his spread out beside 
the camp-fires. 

So I bade him adieu, and rose into the 
air to wing my weary course back to Ella- 
borta. Now this was at the end of the 
working psus; the instinct common to us all 
told me that the rest psus was at hand, and 
that it was doubtful whether I could pass 
through another. 


402 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY.' 


And suddenly unutterable weariness came 
over me. I could no longer even guide my 
course. Softly I let myself fall to earth, 
and slept almost before I touched the 
ground beneath the giant fern-tree. 

1 awoke as suddenly as if I had been 
hauled out of sleep by some invisib’e hand. 
A presentiment of danger was growing 
stronger every moment. I did not know 
how long I had slept, but I felt that many 
psus must have passed while I lay uncon- 
scious. 

I rose hastily, started the mechanism, 
and began my flight once more. But as I 
flew my uneasiness increased. For there 
was a strange heat in the air, such as I had 
never known in that land of clouds, and 
lurid luminosity bout the zenith, like a 
great halo of light. And there was also the 
undefinable sense of danger to Hita. 

Hours passed. At last the forest ended, 
and the great Ellabortan plain lay extended 
beneath me. That distant blur was the 
capital. But the plain was filled with 
legions of armed men — men of Sar who had 
preceded me while I lay days in a stupor. 
And the walls were packed with fighting 
warriors. 

I heard the din of battle raised, and, as I 
neared the ramparts, I saw the Avians 
swarming up the streets of Ellaborta driving 
our men before them. 

Other bodies, having gained the walls, 
were holding Sar at bay. The Avians must 
have been hugely reinforced, ami only a 
miracle could save the city before Sar could 
storm the outer defenses. 

As I circled above the keep I saw that 
Thakas was already master of the inner 
city. The palace was on fire. The council 
hall was flaming furiously, and bodies of 
horsemen were driving our men like sheep 
to massacre. 

1 swept to the ground in the middle of 
the quadrangle, where a small force of Ella- 
bortans still disputed supremacy with the 
Avians. I snatched a sword from a dead 
man and, placing myself at the head of the 
defenders, led them against the advancing 
horsemen. 

Then out of the press Thaxas leaped at 
me, dismounted, his eyes shooting fire. 
“Well met, my Lord Gowani! ” he cried. 


“ Here and now do I fulfil my promise made 
to you in the council hall, impostor from the 
upper earth!” 

In a moment we were in the center of a 
ring of warriors, who ceased their combat 
in order to see the singular duel between 
the two leaders. Thaxas dealt terrific blows 
at me with his huge sword, but his armor 
encumbered him, and I was able to parry 
them or leap aside, always watching for 
my opening. He aimed a fierce stroke at my 
head, and as I sprang to one side the point 
of his blade caught my cheek, laying it open 
from ear to chin. Next instant my point 
had gone through corselet and breastbone, 
and stood out three inches or more behind 
him. 

He coughed, whirled, snatched at the 
blade and tried to draw it forth; then, sink- 
ing upon his face, his eyes upturned in hate 
to mine, he died. 

For an instant the Avians remained 
stupefied at the death of their great leader, 
and, seizing the advantage, the Fendeks 
drove them back toward the smoking palace. 
All was not lost, although our situation was 
a desperate one. But suddenly one of the 
Wallaby Priests came running to me, 
clutching at me. 

“Treachery, my Lord Gowani!” he 
screamed in my ear. “ The Lord Seoul, the 
traitor, came here for no good purpose, for, 
being pardoned, he conspired with Mnur, 
the double traitor, according to the plan 
which they had made, and opened the 
inner gate to the Avian forces during the 
rest psus, so that, the moment the psus was 
ended, the Avians stormed our defenses.” 

“ Hita?” I cried. 

“ She is in the Eagle Temple, where a 
body-guard defends, her. But, my lord, 
there is worse work afoot. Mnur has been 
in conspiracy with Ptuth, and has wrought 
evil in the Room of the Light. I know not 
what, but something impends worse for 
Fendika than anything that has — ” 

I shook him off and raced toward the 
Eagle Temple, over a ground littered with 
dead and dying. Upon the steps I saw a 
swarm of Avians, dismounted, but fully 
armed, running forward, their swords in 
their hands, their shields raised above their 
heads. Inside I saw the blue cloaks of Hita’s 


THE EYE OF BALAMOK. 


403 


defenders, now reduced to a handful, with a 
ring of slain about them. 

But Hita was not there. I ran past the 
blue cloaks, who, recognizing me, turned 
toward me for an instant and then resumed 
tjieir battle. None regarded me, so fierce 
was the fray, so mad the hate. 

In the interior of the temple I saw a very 
aged man standing by the low altar in an 
attitude of contemplation. It was the 
Eagle Priesfr, the last attendant left after 
the massacre of the Eagle males; but in the 
few psus that had passed since I had seen 
him he seemed to have passed from hale old 
age to utter senility. 

“ The queen!” I gasped. 

He looked at me, and recognition slowly 
dawned on his wrinkled face. 

“ Was it not you who came to me to de- 
mand the secret in the queen’s name?” he 
babbled. 

“No, fool!” I shouted, seeing Ptuth’s 
trickery in this. For of course Ptuth had 
known; nothing escaped the knowledge of 
the magician whose hold upon Fendika ap- 
peared unshakable. 

“ Then it must have been the other lord 
from afar,” he mumbled. 

I caught his shoulders and shook him 
violently. “ Which way?” I howled in his 
ear. 

He staggered to the altar and, pressing 
a knob, swung round a gleat block of stone, 
disclosing a secret stairway. 

I rushed down into utter darkness. But 
at the end there was a gleam of light. Be- 
fore me lay a courtyard, concealed from 
view from the quadrangle by the high walls 
that rose on all sides of it. 

The center of this yard was filled by an 
enormous, hideous monster. It was a ptero- 
dactyl, a great lizard, twenty feet in length, 
with short, stout limbs and a curving, un- 
dulating back, on which was strapped a 
soft-pad saddle. 

Beside it Hita was struggling in Sewell’s 
arms. He was holding her tightly, and 
striving to mount the enormous beast with 
her, though how it could escape from that 
enclosure Aould not divine. 

Seeing me, he stopped and gaped in fear 
and astonishment. And I was struck in 
that instant by the singular change in him, 


even as in the Eagle Priest. For he seemed 
to have aged, too; he had left Kalgoorlie 
with me as a young man; now he looked in 
middle life. 

But I ran at him with my sword raised, 
and he dropped Hita and fled. Unarmed 
though he was, to all appearances, I would 
have struck him down even in flight. But 
suddenly he turned and pulled from his 
cloak the automatic which he had told me 
he had lost in the encounter with the sav- 
ages at the entrance to the underworld. 

Six shots followed in rapid succession 
before I could close with him. I heard 
them hiss about me, and I was conscious 
of a vicious pain in the breast, over the 
heart. Next instant I had sliced his right 
arm from his body with a single blow of 
my sword. 

The little court was swinging round me. 
I turned to Hita; I saw a band of Avians 
burst into the place. They had overcome 
the last resistance of Hita’s followers and 
surged forward, yelling with triumph. 

Half swooning, I felt Hita drag me to 
the pterodactyl. With all her strength she 
dragged me upon the monster’s back, and 
sat behind me, holding me. 

And, even as the Avians were within 
sword’s reach of me, the winged lizard rose 
into the air. 

It rose; it cleared the temple roofs. Be- 
neath me the quadrangle was still filled 
with a confused clamor, and little groups 
were fighting to the death. The outer city 
was now in the possession of Sar’s men, who 
were advancing with locked shields toward 
the keep. And all the capital was aflame. 
Ruin and destruction everywhere. 

Then suddenly the clouds above were 
rent, and there appeared a huge, fiery sun 
that seemed to fill all the zenith. Mnur’s 
treachery had succeeded. The removal of 
the cones that concentrated the rays had 
permitted the interior luminary to disperse 
the clouds. Men had spoken truly when 
they ascribed this power to Ptuth. 

A fearful cry arose: “ The Eye of Bala- 
mok! The Eye of Balamok!” 

I drew Hita’s cloak over her head and 
mine above that. I placed my face beside 
hers. I heard her whisper: 

“ With thee, my lord, the dark lands 


404 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


beyond Balamok, where we may dwell 
together.” 


CHAPTER XXI. 

THE PROPHECY OF OLD. 

H ERE the manuscript was torn, as if 
intentionally. It ended, and the 
young Englishman, who had read all 
day in utter absorption, looked up for the 
first time. 

The sun was dipping toward the west, 
the afternoon mirage still danced on the 
horizon of the Great Victoria, but there was 
the cool breath of night in the air. He rose 
and paced the little house of stone. 

He was consumed with eagerness to learn 
the remainder of Gowan’s adventures. He 
scooped the sand away about the table-legs, 
without much hope of finding anything 
more, and it was with a cry of delight that 
he came upon another piece of the manu- 
script, apparently written and then flung 
away. He smoothed out the wrinkles in the 
brittle sheet and read, as well as he could 
decipher: 

. . . that earthly paradise, where ripe 
fruits hung from the trees and never a soul 
but Hita and myself. Cool water from 
crystal springs . . . was the origin of the 
story of creation, the lost Garden of Eden 
. . . ant of passing time, seeing each 

other's faces dimly in the darkness. 

. . . sadness that I could not but 

notice. For a long i one she turned a smil- 
ing face to mine and professed her happi- 
ness. Yet at last the time came when I 
prevailed on her to tell me what it was 
troubled her. 

“ My Lord Gowani,” she answered 
“ said I not to you in the Temple of the 
Eagle that Ptuth the magician cannot be 
overthrown, and that I must be renewed 
unto eternal life when I grow old, according 
to the command laid upon me, until the 
prophecy be fulfilled?” 

“ Many long psus ama must pass before 
you grow old, Hita,” I answered. “ And as 
for the prophecy, has it not been fulfilled?” 
“ No, my lord,” she answered softly. 
“For we have not ruled in Ellaborta, as it 
decreed. Therefore I must be renewed unto 


youth by Ptuth, who doubtless rules there 
still.” 

I strangled down the cry that choked my 
throat. “ Do you mean that — that I am not 
he who shall rule with you?” I cried. 

“ I do not know, my lord,” she answered 
simply. “ But take me in your arms once 
more and look upon me.” 

I did so, and as I looked into her face a 
cry of terror broke from me. I was looking 
at an aged woman. The hair that hung 
formerly in great clustering curls about her 
head was thinned and white, her eyes were 
dimmed, and her face lined and puckered. 

Then it was that I knew the fearful lot 
that had been laid upon me. I have said 
how Flita expressed the thought, when first 
she saw r me sleep, that my life must be half 
wasted unless it were immeasurably longer 
than her own. I have written of old Nas- 
maxa\death from old age, of the senility of 
the Eagle Priest. And yet it had not 
occurred to me that, living without real 
sleep, the inhabitants of Annoryii must 
needs have a shorter span of life than we. 

How long had we dwelt there? Where 
there is no sun to measure days, no seasons 
to tell the passage of the years, the sense of 
time soon vanishes. I tried to think. One 
year? Two years? Hardly two weeks, as 
my own senses spoke. 

Hita had grown old, and I was still a 
young man. A dry burst from me; I flung 
myself upon the ground. When I arose I 
saw Hita watching me with infinite com- 
passion in her eyes. 

“ Let my lord order me,” she said. 

“ If the old prophecy must be fulfilled, 
so be it,” I returned. “ Let us go back to 
Ptuth and bid him renew you unto eternal 
life. And once again I shall attempt to rule 
Fendika, that I may show you I am he 
whose coming was foretold.” 

She smiled very wistfully, but made no 
answer. And so, veiling her head once 
more, we mounted the winged lizard and 
made our way toward the light. 

But this precaution was needless, for the 
Eye of Balamok slumbered beneath his eye- 
lids of cloud. Long afterward' we came into 
the Fendek land, and, halting the winged 
monster, looked down on Ellaborta from 
above. 


THE EYE OF BALAMOK. 


405 


But this was a city such as I had not 
known before. The inner wails were gone. 
The capital extended far beyond the outer 
ones, and in the heart of all a huge structure 
towered into the skies, apparently palace 
and council hall and temple all in one. 

As we descended and came to rest in the 
great enclosure, a big crowd came round 
about us, shouting in wonder. And, to my 
astonishment, they were dressed differently 
from the Fendeks, even their speech, though 
recognizable, was different. 

A chant was raised. Through their midst 
came a band of priests, dressed, not in yel- 
low, but red. At their head, unchanged, his 
smooth face wrinkled as of yore, was Ptuth. 

Hita and I were conducted into the great 
temple set within a grove of flowering trees. 
But the interior was different, the altar 
stood low toward the ground, and there was 
no longer the electrum serpent, nor any sign 
of serpent worship. 

And Ptuth, eying me strangely, seemed 
only to have some vague remembrance of 
me. 

“ Who are you, strangers?” he asked in 
his curious Fendek, which I could hardly 
understand. 

At that my anger flamed out, as if some 
scurvy trick had been played on me. “ You 
know me, O Ptuth!” I cried; “ aye, and the 
princess here, Hita, Queen of Fendika! ” 

At that a gasp of astonishment ran 
through the temple, and men put their 
heads together and whispered. 

“ You know us both,” I cried. “ I came 
to this land, 0 Fendeks,” I continued, turn- 
ing from Ptuth to the assembly, “"to restore 
Queen Hita here to her own throne, against 
the usurper, Thafti, and Thaxas, chief of 
theAvians. And what I could do I did; but 
at the last, to save the queen, being sorely 
wounded, I left the country with her. That 
is known to all of you, and not least to 
Ptuth, the magician.” 

There was a constrained silence for a 
minute before Ptuth answered me. 

“I am not Ptuth, but Lokas, Priest of 
the Unknown God,” he answered. “All that 
you say is well known to us, as you have 
claimed, but surely you and this old woman 
are bewildered with age, to come here with 
such a story. For the events of which you 


speak happened psus uncountable ago, at 
the time of the last unveiling of the dreaded 
Eye of Balamok, and even our records 
admit them to be dim legends of the past. 
The Priest Ptuth died long ago, and the 
Serpent Worship is banished forever as a 
relic of our barbarous ancestors, and the 
descendants of Sar, legendary chief of the 
Aonorians, rule this land from Zelryii, the 
capital of the Aonorian Empire.” 

I gazed about me in a frantic bewilder-* 
ment. It was true, everything was strange;: 
and yet this old man before me was either 
Ptuth, or Ptuth reincarnated. 

And I wondered whether the “ renewal 
unto eternal youth ” meant birth in a new 
body, with hardly a memory of the past. 

“ Nevertheless, O Gowani, if indeed by 
any possibility you can be he whom you 
claim to be,” Lokas continued, “ tar ancient 
prophecies foretell the coming of a stranger, 
an old man, and of an aged woman, whose 
appearance shall be the forerunner of a 
queen named Hita, who shall rule this land. 
And the wisdom of our fathers tells us, 
furthermore, that this old woman, dying, 
shall pass into the body of a babe about to 
be bom, who shall be she. But as for you, 
Gowani, our prophecies are silent.” 

I caught Hita in my arms. “Tell him 
that I am your lover,” I cried. “ Tell him 
that if you die I shall die to be reborn with 
you. Am I not he of whom the prophecy 
spoke?” 

“ I do not know, my Lord Gowani,” she 
answered wistfully. “ Fair was our love 
while this body was mine, but whether — i 
whether you — be he — ” 

She trembled and suddenly collapsing,; 
sank down upon the temple floor. 

And it was only that which had contained 
Hita’s dear, loyal and loving spirit that I 
held in my arms. 


CHAPTER XXII. 

SYMBOLS. 

T HEY took me many days’ journey 
across the desert, telling me that when 
they had deliberated they would sum- 
mon me. And so I wait here until the call 
comes. 


406 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


What gives me cause for hope is this: I 
am a young man, and hardly a year will 
pass before the babe that is Hita will have 
grown to young w'omanhood. Surely, if 
she be queen, she will remember me and 
bid them recall me. 

They have given me food, and every few 
days some of the blacks appear with supplies 
brought from Ethnabasca underneath. By 
that I know they have not forgotten me. 

Surely in a few weeks, or months, they 
will recall me. Meanwhile I wait, and 
sometimes all seems like a dream to me, but 
for my memory of that surpassing love 
which I dare to dream is destined to be 
mine again. I have employed the time in 
drawing up this memoir, for my relief, 
rather than in the hope that — 

Here the fragment of manuscript ended 
abruptly, as if the writer had suddenly been 
surprised, for there was the scrawl of the 
implement with which the manuscript had 
been written, terminating in a blot and 
scratch. 

The reader rose, stretched himself and 
went outside. In the glancing rays of the 
sun, now almost on the horizon, he saw 
something among the salt crystals beside the 
pool. Approaching it he found it to be the 
skeleton of a man. 

The right arm lay a little distance from 
the body, but whether it had been severed 
after death it was impossible to say, for 
even the bones had been corroded by the 


salt crystals. Nor was it, for the same 
reason, possible to determine whether it was 
the skeleton of Sewell or of the black, Peter. 

If the traveler had found a second skele- 
ton, he might have believed that Gowan’s 
screed was the product of delirium, induced 
by the sufferings of the Great Victoria. But 
though the tale seemed unbelievable the 
fleece upon the water-bag was like a llama’s. 
And Gowan had not brought a camel from 
Kalgoorlie. 

Had the priests come for Gowan at last 
and summoned him back to the underworld 
to meet Queen Hita, rearisen, lovely and 
radiant, from death? 

He, too, had heard legends of a white 
queen across the Great Victoria. If the 
story was true, Gowan had not known that 
he had grown old with Hita in that earthly 
paradise whose description had been tom 
from the parchment. 

At least the story seemed symbolical of 
life — the quest of the heart’s desire, always 
unattainable, the lure that beckons across 
the deserts of life to those who watch. 

Gowan, old Joe, the prospector— what 
were these but symbols of those who seek, 
attain and ever lose the paradise of the soul, 
only to hope with hope unquenchable? 

The traveler looked wistfully about him. 
Almost he was tempted to seek for the hid- 
den entrance into the city below. Then, 
shrugging his shoulders at his folly, he filled 
his waterskin, swung it upon his shoulder, 
and set out on his long journey eastward. 


(The end.) 

u cr xj tr 

THE WAY OF THE WORLD 


BY HAROLD SETON 


T'O throw oneself upon a sled 
4 Affords a throb and thrill 
That’s not unmixed with doubt and dread, 
When coasting 

down 

a 


But ev’ry pleasure has a price, 
Permit me to explain, 

And I detest, o’er snow and ice, 
gain! 
a- 
up 


hill! 


The climbing 



T HE second hour after night is a 
queerish time. It really doesn’t 
seem to be a time of itself at all, but 
just a cross between has-been and will-be— 
a time which things elect, when they want 
to happen outside the sense of the world’s 
schedule hours. And it looks even more 
of a rusty time than it is, from the cold iron 
bench of a park in November. The noth- 
ingness of it trickles with awful coldness 
down a spine, and, if pockets are empty, it 
trickles even more coldly through them and 
on down a pant leg — and it makes cold feet 
— it makes cold feet! 

Such an hour — entertaining such a spirit 
in his back and through his pockets, did 
Darby — find his feet cold. 

The rear of the park gave into a high 
wall, beyond which lay tracks, freight-cars, 
wharves, boatmen’s shanties, and a sullen 
river. The river was black and ugly, but 
life is sometimes black- and ugly too, and 
Darby felt that of two ugly things, the 
river — in which it took the least effort to be 
carried, was quite the choice. 

But as his leg swung to take itself over 
the wall riverward, it was frantically 
clutched — his balance undone to the park 
side again, and a near-three-hundred-pound 
woman with a shapeless hand at her panting 
throat, and her fat sides heaving, met his 
startled gaze. 

Sullenly straightening his hat, brushing 
his clothes, and shifting his twisted coat- 


shoulders, he sat down on the iron bench 
again. 

“ I thot I’d never get dost enough to 
stop you!” she panted — righting her sad 
little turban and drawing her scraggy black 
shawl closer about her throat. “ Darby it’s 
— it’s against the law!” 

“Law nothin’!” replied Darby dis- 
guestedly. “ Law can’t keep nobody from 
goin’ to hell when he’s ready. Next time, 
you keep your hands off me.” 

“ Mr. Michael Darby,” Amy Shores in- 
formed him — her returning breath permit- 
ting a try at dignity. “ Hell means nothin’ 
to me, when you’re owin’ me eleven dollars 
board-bill. You can dean the lady on the 
top floor’s eittire rugs to-morrow, and so on. 
When you get me paid up— do as you like 
—but it’s against the law, plum against the 
law, Darby,” she finished in the tone of one 
objecting to oysters in June, and seated 
herself beside him. 

Darby sniffed disgustedly. " Everything 
you ever set your eyes on is against the 
law,” he said, “ and incidently, I ain’t 
cleanin’ rugs for nobody. I see plenty o’ 
men have money without cleanin’ rugs for 
it, and I’ve got as good a right to have it 
as see it.” 

The chill gray park, with the November 
moan through its gaunt trees, hung around 
them so sepulchrally that, after the mo- 
ment of silence which Amy’s still strug- 
gling breath demanded — neither found 
407 


408 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


voice to speak again. They were very 
much alone. 

Far down a dead-leaf path, one pale 
street light made cold thin shadows. The 
bare ground, the bare sky, the dank, raw 
air — made hopelessness out of everything, 
and presently Amy began to feel cold feet, 
too. She spread one hand over her eyes 
and nose and began to snivel softly into it. 
Behind the wall the river breathed coldly 
against the wharf posts. Coldly, yes. but 
after all. 

Amy’s snivel grew into a little wail, but 
Darby, slouching heedlessly beside her, 
paid no attention. 

“ D-D-Darby,” her choking voice came 
at last, “ I — I — guess you're right. Hell’s 
the easiest. Let’s you and me just — You 
think it would be hell?” she interrupted 
herself a bit anxiously. 

“ Speakin’ for me — yes,” he answered 
shortly. 

“ Well,” she took up again in a hopeless 
tone, l! we reapeth as we soweth, and I don’t 
deserve no better ’n others — but the stew- 
ing veal on the cheapest corner of the 
market was twenty-two cents to-day, and 
four rooms empty, winter cornin’ on — and 
me takin’ on more size constant. I wouldn’t 
never have the heart by myself — but with 
a strong man at my side — ” 

But the thought proved greater than the 
spirit, and with the sudden coming of a 
raw wind from the river, Amy broke— her 
chih dropped itself on her heaving bosom, 
and her shoulders shook with sobs. 

Darby shivered, put his raw-boned hands 
in his pockets, and absent-mindedly framed 
the picture of his bony lankiness, and 
Amy’s short bulkiness going down together. 
The picture provoked a mental parade of 
the entire event till, in backward sequence, 
he visioned its beginning, and then — then 
he laughed! 

Amy’s mightiest sob held itself on the 
rise. Her chin came up — and her lips 
tightened, as she faced him. 

“ You — you poor Scandanavian,” she 
blubbered. “ You— you poor I mean Irish- 
man. Are you laughing at me? You— 
you — ” 

Something in her manner entirely 
changed the spirit of the scene for Darby, 


and inspired a new pep in him, somehow, 
that brought his shoulders up smartly as he 
met her indignant gaze. 

“ I was thinking of you getting over the 
wall,” he said. 

For a moment she looked at him with 
scorn. Then out on the river a wailing 
two-toned boat whistle began to mourn. 
Simultaneously, a sad little drizzle added 
itself to the dismal scene, and line by line — 
the haughteur of Amy’s face fell into 
tragedy — the sobs bagan again — and heav- 
ing to her feet, she turned her face skyward. 
Her shapeless straw turban slipped as far 
as her rear belt buckle where it clung by a 
leaf — her dull old skirt moved forlornly in 
the raw wind, and the black shawl pitifully 
scant, pinned close to her neck, made her 
face seem very white — very living-and- 
dying white. 

“ Oh, death,” she cried, her voice sharp 
with despair that had long struggled against 
itself. “ You can’t sting me no worse than 
life. I guess I choose you after all.” 

Fler face brought Darby to his feet — 
brought him where he could see beyond 
the dead November park — to the living 
light at the gate of it — made him feel a 
thing he had long forgotten— that he was 
a living man in a living world — as big a 
man as ever made a million — a man bigger 
than any circumstance that ever dared con- 
struct itself! 

And then over that feeling — flooded an- 
other. A strange one, to him. One no less 
human, but quite unprecedented. A tender, 
gentle surging thought for the tear-stained 
white face before him. A forgetfulness of 
Amy Shores’s superfluous bulk — in remem- 
brance of her fingers once upon a time ban- 
daging his broken wrist — of her voice sing- 
ing the neighbor’s baby to sleep — her care 
with the darn on his coat-sleeve — his warm 
coat and her thin one — her thin skirt — her 
poor hat— her ragged shawl — panting, ach- 
ingly, out in the night to save him. 

And he’d laughed at her! He’d laughed! 
What, for a yellow dog was he anyway ! 
What did he have for a soul in his worthless 
skin! 

But when he’d got all hold of himself 
again, and his human eyes came back to 
where Amy’s white face had been — she 


“THIS BEATS HELL.” 


409 


wasn’t there! With the determination born 
of anguish — she’d reached up on the bench 
— and up on the wall— and down on a truck 
and all alone — quite without the “ strong 
man beside,” she’d got to the ground on 
the other side, and she’d gone through the 
freights — and across the tracks, and, when 
Darby, with an exclamation of alarm, 
sprang over the wall after her — she was 
past the shanties, and at. the water’s edge! 

“Amy!” he cried sharply. “Wait! 
What you doin’! Wait!” 

But she waited for no tiring! Up on the 
wharf she climbed, and without a back- 
ward glance — hurried down the water- 
washed length of it. 

“Anry!”' begged Darby frantically — as 
he plunged after her. “Wait!” 

But his cry, unanswered, echoed mock- 
ingly along the cold shore, while Amy, well 
out now, planned calmly enough that she 
wouldn’t jump — she’d just slip in “ easy.” 
So when she came to the end, she sat 
down on the wharf’s edge — a little side- 
wise, so that one foot dangled in — and a 
pleasantly gentle wave folded over it. 

Darby leaped up the wharf steps — but 
just too late to see her! She was gone! 
Kind, sweet, Amy! The only soul on earth 
who’d ever cared whether his head ached 
and his stomach went empty or not. And 
he’d laughed at her! Laughed at her! 

“ Amy — ” he cried brokenly. “ Forgive 
me, Amy. I can’t get along without you — ” 
The river wind shoved him against the 
rail, and he clung there like a rag in a 
storm — staring down the black wharf. 
After a while a stern hand touched his 
shoulder. 

“ Come along,” came an officer’s voice. 
“ No loafing here. Come along with me— 
so I can be sure you keep moving.” 

So Michael Darby went back through 
the park, and past the light — and into the 
town again, but all the while he kept think- 
ing how pretty and pink Amy’s cheeks had 
looked on her birthday, when the ice-man 
had dared him to kiss her. 

II. 

The next morning was the beginning of 
the third half of Michael Darby's life. The 


first half had been the years from nothing 
to twenty-four — when nobody could say for 
a fact that Darby would never amount to 
anything. The second half — the years from 
twenty-four to thirty-five, when everybody 
knew — and so did Darby, that he was 
worthless, which two halves ended in his 
decision for hell on the certain gray night 
in November. 

Then began the third half — which did as 
a third half of anything would' be bound to 
do — disproved everybody’s conjectures — 
even Michael Darby’s. 

His bed in the station served him ac- 
ceptably. Since he knew he really hadn’t 
done himself to it— it was a kindness of the 
state to him, rather than a safeguard 
against him — and in a big new spirit of 
going to live and do and be, he knew that 
such a care for such a man as himself was 
quite due, and so, whereas the night before 
it would have stung him as making him a 
man cursed with a keeper — it now warmed 
him, as making him a man blessed with a 
host. 

In the morning his straight shoulders, 
keen eyes, and quiet manner, offset his 
rumpled clothes to such an extent that his 
man’s apology to the judge for having had 
to take advantage of a public shelter, was 
received with a man’s reassurance — and 
Michael Darby went out into the good air, 
and saw the world before him. 

And Amy? He couldn’t sense her — gone. 
He sensed just that the new man he was, 
was her doing — not his. It seemed as 
though this new determination was a trust 
to her— an answering act to her anxiety for 
him of the night before. 

She’d saved him, and now he must prove 
to her that her effort had been worth whileli 

Then came thoughts that she’d lost her 
self for him. Lost her courage to his ac- 
count. Came thoughts that through, the 
dark halls of the old brick boarding-house, 
her voice wouldn’t be singing: “ Just a 
Song at Twilight ” any more — that all the 
dirty little children cramming around the 
big old wicker chair for an evening story— 
would just wait, and wait. But someway 
— that couldn’t seem to be. It didn’t seem 
that, that chilly, gray, wailing hour could 
have been at all — coming like that, and 


'410 


ALL - STORY * WEEKLY. 


taking Amy away with it, and leaving such 
a new Michael Darby behind it! 

Well — he’d buy a paper, and see. But 
at the news-stand, he remembered his 
pockets and so turned, instead, to a high 
tin street-box, which every morning found 
full of discarded news sheets. He selected 
one — and opened it, but from all over the 
page Amy’s visioned face looked at him — 
and he couldn’t read a thing. Hastily he 
turned it over, blinked the thoughts out of 
his eyes until he could see again, and then 
hunted for “ job ads.” 

It seemed right and proper that the first 
he saw should be for a man to beat rugs — 
and right and proper, as a crowning of his 
new spirit, that he should hurry to the ad- 
dress, really hoping for the privilege. 

And all day long, Michael Darby beat 
rugs. But he wasn’t Darby beating rugs at 
all. He was a man ihaking good. A man 
exchanging ability for capital. A man who 
was going to pay for his dinner, and have 
his shoes shined, and hunt up a room to 
own, and never take a newspaper out of a 
street-box again as long as he lived! 

III. 

And all those things he did — and then, 
in the quiet of the bare little room, came 
Amy’s voice — shone her laughing eyes — 
soothed her gentle fingers — blushed her 
cheeks at mention of the ice-man, and over 
Darby surged such a wish that it were true 
— that he had to leave the house and go 
for a walk to try and put his thoughts be- 
hind him. 

Still, through it all, she seemed more to 
have come, than gone. When he finally 
went back to bed, it was with tender care 
that he hung his coat over the chair. Amy’s 
darn was in the sleeve of it! With smooth 
precision, he put his tie in tire top drawer. 
She had pressed it! And when he took a 
hot bath, and got between the two sheets 
he had paid for — he found a humble satis- 
faction in being sure that somehow she 
knew what this twenty-four hours had done 
for him. 

For a week Darby beat rugs. For three 
weeks he loaded sawdust. For a month 
he moved freight, and then he took the 


night-watchman’s place in “ The Harding 
Lithograph Company,” where posters were 
supplied for bill-boards all over the world. 

So Darby passed into a salary. He had 
thirty dollars a week. But he had more 
money than he wanted — more than was 
comfortable. And the reason thirty dollars 
a week was more than was comfortable, was 
because every cent of it stung him with a 
memory of Amy as he had seen her last — 
her thin shawl — her poor shirt — her white 
face— giving up the sunshine of the world 
because stewing veal was twenty-two cents 
— and because Darby wouldn’t lift a hand 
to pay her eleven dollars board — and he’d 
laughed at her! 

That was one thought of Amy and the 
thirty dollars a week, but always hand in 
hand with that, was another. The thought 
of Amy, as pretty and fresh and sweet as 
any lady in the land, waiting with a smile 
for his home-coming — minding his little 
needs with tenderness — and then, after a 
while he was bound to understand that he’d 
loved Amy Shores better than any of the 
world, or all of it — that the world, in fact, 
was merely a working machine without 
her — that the manhood suddenly sprung up 
within him, had been just an intuition to 
do for Amy, and be for Amy — that it was 
love for her that had come when she had 
gone, and had made her seem so close to 
him then. 

On that same birthday, that same ice- 
man had taken a snap-shot of her in her 
sunny back door. Darby had it in his 
pocket, and one Saturday night, at the 
desk in his little office, he found courage 
to take it out and look at it. 

There had been a time when Darby had 
been so little of a man — that he’d let tears 
come to his eyes once, about something — 
but he had the mind to be ashamed, and 
get them out. Now he was so much of a 
man — that tears came, and came and ran 
all down his rough cheeks, and down his 
chin — and made little water blisters all over 
the picture in his hand — and he didn’t even 
know them for tears. He knew them just 
as love for the truest, best, most courageous 
heart he had ever known. He thought of 
those tears as the best of his man’s estate. 

The corners of the picture were getting 


“THIS BEATS HELL.” 


411 


ragged. It wanted a case. So he went to 
the jeweler and bought a fifty-dollar watch 
— and cut out Amy’s dimpling face, and 
framed it — haloed it — in gold. 

The next day, the janitor, cleaning up, 
carried the rest of the picture out in his 
waste-basket, and the next night, as Darby 
sat cleaning his light — came a rap at his 
office door. 

Surprised, he opened, to a jauntily- 
dressed gentleman with a blond mustache, 
plaid socks, and a walking stick — who 
promptly came in past Darby, took the 
only chair — and made himself at home. 

Then from his pocket he produced the 
lower half of the snap-shot of Amy — of 
which Darby promptly relieved him. The 
man laughed. 

“Touchy, eh!” he remarked. “Well, I 
just thought you might know the lady.” 

Darby’s eyes narrowed, but he said noth- 
ing, and the man, flecking patent toe, with 
mahogany stick, went on. 

“ My name’s Chapin,” he announced. 
“ I’ve been connected with this paper firm, 
buying bill-posters for ten years, and I 
called around to-day to stock for the new 
season, and the janitor — friend of mine 
who knows where my interests are — saved 
me this half of a scene from your waste- 
basket, thinking you’d know the lady’s ad- 
dress, and for a reasonable price would put 
me hip. Needn’t get mad, Pard. All fair 
and honest you know. Just helping a man 
find somebody he’s looking for!” 

Darby, having nothing to say, did the 
unusual thing under those circumstances — 
said nothing, and presently the man put his 
question again. 

“ Know her?” he asked pointedly. 

“ Yes,” said Darby. He couldn’t trust 
himself to say more. 

“Good!” exclaimed the other. “Fine! 
I’ll pay you a hundred dollars for her ad- 
dress! ” 

Darby didn’t know what the game was — 
but he didn’t want to discuss Amy. 

“ She’s — dead,” he said almost under his 
breath. And, picking up his light, went 
into the main buildiJig, and locked the 
heavy doors behind him, leaving his guest 
the choice of the little outer office, or the 
street. 


When he returned two hours later, 
Chapin was gone, and on the desk was a 
scrawled note. It read: 

Sorry, but I don't believe you. I don’t think 
your lady friend is dead, and I'm going to find 
her. Her picture and a detective can get her for 
me as quick as you could, and save me the hun- 
dred besides. Thanks. 

When Darby made ready to go home, he 
found that, not only the lower scrap of the 
snap-shot .was missing — but in his watch, 
which had been left as usual in his street- 
coat, the place where her face had been 
was empty. 

Two or three days went by, and Darby 
missed the picture much. It had come to 
mean a lot to him — that face. He missed 
it so much that he forgot to wonder why 
Chapin had wanted it— -why he had wanted 
her — and finally he took a day to hunt up 
the ice-man and ask for another. 

He went to the ice-office and got the 
route and, at the hour which brought the 
wagon farthest from the brick boarding- 
house, Darby came up beside and waited 
till Jim and his iron hook, came clinking 
around from the nearest back door. 

He hadn’t seen Jim since Amy’s birth- 
day. It took all the courage he had to see 
him now. Apparently it took all Jim’s 
courage too — for a foot from Darby’s trim 
straight figure, he stopped and stared ut- 
terly speechless. 

“ Great Gizzards! ” he cried at last. “ It’s 
Michael Darby!” and slamming his hook 
over the hedge — he seized Darby’s hand 
with a grip like the end of the world. 

“ Hello, Jim,” said Darby at last. “ Been 
quite a while, ain’t it? You look just the 
same though.” 

“Yes, me/’ laughed Jim, “ but not you, 
old top. Gizzards but you’re slicked up 
some. Though you’d forgot your old 
friends! Looks like the world’s doin’ good 
by you all right.” 

“ Yes,” Darby smiled. “ I’m gettin’ on 
good. Looked you up to ask ” — he hesi- 
tated for a minute, swallowed, then met 
Jim’s eyes squarely to make himself be 
calm — “ to ask for one of them little pic- 
tures you took of — Amy.” 

“ Sure thing,” answered Jim heartily. 


412 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


“ I keep all my filums. Make you one to- 
night. Say ’’—pulling his watch from his 
damp overall pocket — " it’s ten to eleven. 
I’ll hurry up and do the block and meet 
you at Martie’s for lunch at twelve, and 
we’ll print one this noon!” 

“ All right,” Darby nodded, “ twelve 
o’clock it is. Here’s your machinery.” And 
exchanging Jim’s hand-shake for the iron 
hook, as the ice-man mounted the dripping 
rear step, and shucked his horses on, Darby 
turned up the street. But twenty feet 
away Jim hailed him. 

“ Just happened to think,” he called “ I 
took that filum over to Amy yesterday. 
But we can get it off hei after we eat. So- 
long.” 

IV. 

The ice-wagon lumbered on, Michael 
Darby staring after it. Amy! Yesterday! 
Pink and white and words and smiles and 
sun and grass and eyes and lips came in a 
crazy kaleidoscope of sound and scene to 
his breathless senses. The day — the day — 
the ice-man had dared him — and he’d 
kissed her — and her voice singing — the 
neighbor’s baby to sleep — her lingers on his 
broken wrist — and then — and then — the 
night and her thin skirt, and her white face 
and maybe — maybe after all he could tell 
her— maybe he could tell her — show her — 
find her— give her. 

His next conscious moment was in her 
kitchen, his head on her kitchen table, and 
once more he knew tears, not as tears, but 
just as love for the truest, best, most cour- 
ageous heart he had ever known. 

Gently Amy smoothed his hair, ’and 
patted his shoulder — and by and by, he 
felt other tears than his own — hot drops 
flooding the back of his neck where he knew 
his happiness couldn’t have spilled them — 
and he reached for the hand on his arm — 
and — and in the door of Martie’s, Jim 
looked up the street and down the street, 
and at two o’clock, he swore from the bot- 
tom of his heart and went back to the ice- 
wagon in an unnecessary clean collar! 

V Say but you’re fine, Darby,” Amy 
beamed, when the end of the afternoon had 
them fairly calm again; “ Just be taking 
the peeling of banana for your lunch off, so 


I won’t have to let you out of my sight a 
minute! Such head aches I’ve give myself 
for you — and — and heart aches' too,” she 
added softly. “ But I knew you’d come. 
I knew you’d come. When I heard you 
that night sayin’ you couldnlt get along 
without me — I was so happy I could ’a’ 
gone on dyin’ ’thout knowin’ it at all. 
Even if I was' sittin’ down, and in the 
shadows so you couldn’t see me — you could 
’a’ heard all of me beatin’ for joy.” 

And that night — when Darby turned 
smiling, at the corner, to wave answer to 
Amy’s radiant farewell — that night began 
the fourth half of Michael Darby’s life. 

V. 

Near noon the next day, after Darby, 
in his once cherished room, had tried in 
vain to sleep — he rose, dressed carefully, 
and hurried like a boy on the top of the 
world — back to the glory of Amy’s smile. 
He found her, much agitated, sitting as 
stiffly as was possible for her — on the red 
velvet settee in her parlor — and in her best 
spring rocker— sat a hawk-nosed gentleman 
with dark-rimmed glasses, and impatient 
fingers — tapping the chair arms. 

Amy rose nervously to meet Darby, and 
with her hands managed to motion the in- 
troduction her lips failed in making. 

“ Mr. Biswell is a detective,” she added, 
trying to smile, “ he got me off Jim’s snap- 
shot picture from — from your waste-basket. 
He — came to — to see me.” 

Her face was a queer mixture of emotion, 
and Darby, facing Mr. Biswell, remem- 
bered for the first time to wonder about 
the meaning of that call from Chapin! And 
there flashed, too, a thought of the terror 
Amy had always had for things “ again the 
law.” But quicker than both thoughts, 
was one of thanks that, whatever the trou- 
ble, he could have come back in time. 

“ What is it, Amy,” he said gently — 
reaching for her hand. “ Tell me all about 
it — won’t you?” 

“ Darby,” she faltered, “ if you— if just 
it don’t lose me you — it’s all right. I’ll tell 
you all the paper of the man with the big 
spectacle says — if you promise to stick by 
me— no matter what, Darby.” 


“THIS BEATS HELL.” 


41a. 


“ Why sure, you bet, Amy,” he assured 
her. “ There ain’t nothin’ can take us apart 
now.” 

Amy searched his face with anxious eyes. 

“ Promise?” she presisted. “ You’ll sure 
stick by me, Darby?” 

Darby nodded solemnly — and glanced 
at the now impatient Mr. Biswell. 

“ Well then,” began Amy, drawing a 
long, legal-looking document from her 
pocket, and unfolding it slowly. “ It’s — 
here’s what it says — Darby.” 

And Darby— as he drew his chair close 
to hers, and patted one of her hands re- 
assuringly, saw the faces of the neighbor’s 
children mashed excitedly against the win- 
dow — looking for what the “ police ” was 
going to do to Amy Shores! 

VI. 

Through the sweet wide country of 
summer time in Iowa — a special train took 
its way one late afternoon, some four weeks 
later, and in a special car — a car with wide 
windows, a fresh green rug, and a vase of 
flowers on its table, sat Michael Darby in 
white ducks and canvas shoes, a panama 
pushed back on his head, busily checking 
in a small note-book. 

Across from his wicker chair, was an- 
other — a specially made one — in which 
Amy, in a cool, blue silk, coming from the 
rear platform, presently seated herself. 

In her hands was a bit of white sewing — 
a dainty curtain for one of the car win- 
dows — but she put it aside now, to lean 
back in her chair — and study a brightly 
lettered three-sheet, pinned across the op- 
posite side of the car. 

Darby, smiling fondly at her, shoved 
back his hat, and let his eyes follow hers. 

XJ V 


“ Funny, ain’t it?” he chuckled. “ The 
world do move fast. You — you like it all 
right, do you, honey?” he asked anxiously. 
“ It— it doesn’t tire you?” 

Amy laughed a gay answer: “ I’m crazy 
about it,” she said. “ I never knew such 
excitement! I was crazy about it right 
from the start — right from when the de- 
tective that followed up my picture for 
Mr. Chapin first told me, but I was afraid 
you wouldn’t feel so free for me if I took 
to gettin’ five hundred dollars a week 
salary. But you’ll have me beat out pretty 
soon,” she dimpled. “ Mr. Chapin says 
you’re the best manager on the show!” 
Darby smiled his appreciation and went 
on sizing up the poster critically. 

“ Them’s nice fancy letters on the sec- 
ond line, ain’t they,” he remarked. “ Be- 
ginnin’ with the ‘ Princess Amy, have you 
seen her. She tips the scale at five hundred 
and thirty-seven pounds, measures five feet 
nine and a half inches around the waist 
and — ’ Amy, now, ain’t you afraid such' 
overfed statements are against the law?” 
But Amy — was too busy fitting the new 
curtain to the back window to mind. When 
it was done, she stood looking out across 
the moving country, over which the warm 
twilight was folding caressingly. Darby, 
joining her, had to pinch her cheek and 
then kiss it soundly to bring back her wan- 
dering attention. 

“ Mrs. Darby,” he demanded, “ what 
you thinkin’ about?” 

“ I was thinkin’,” she smiled, taking hia 
hand in both hers. “ I was thinkin’ of that 
night by the river — and where you was 
goin’ so fast when I stopped you — and I 
was thinkin’ ” — she said tenderly — “ I was 
thinkin’ that by quite considerable — this 
beats hell!” 

U rs 


BETWEEN 

BY GRACE H. BOUTELLE 

1 IFE means to us a thousand different things; 1 
*“* The highest meaning is the one we miss; 
And yet a warning voice unceasing sings, 

“ Life is eternity’s parenthesis.” 



PRECEDING CHAPTERS BRIEFLY RETOLD 

J IMMIE SILVERDALE, reporter, “ crime merchant ” of the London Daily Wire, learned from 
Wing, of Scotland Yard, that Sir Harold Saxon, self-made millionaire airplane manufacturer, 
had been murdered in his apartment by being stabbed with a woman's hatpin. While he was 
at work on the story, Hilary Sloane, the girl he loved, asked him to get her and Nora Dring, 
her chum, out of London secretly. He agreed. 

Chief Detective Inspector Garfield took Jimmie into his confidence. Together they questioned 
“ Velvet Fred ” Blunt, a crook, whose finger-prints had been found on articles in the Saxon apart- 
ment, who admitted that he had been hired by Eston, a " big ” crook, to rob Saxon’s safe of 
some letters, for a woman. In the apartment Garfield found a photograph — of Hilary Sloane. 

Next morning Hilary denied any connection with the murder. Jimmie took both girls to 
the railroad station in a motor-car, and sent them to his aunt, who lived in the country. Later 
he was stopped by Eston, who asked him to “ come in with him.” Jimmie knocked him down. 

Meanwhile Scotland Yard men had learned that Jimmie had taken the girls to the station, 
and in Hilary’s apartment had found a hatpin exactly like the one that had been used to kill 
Saxon. Jimmie told Garfield the whole story, and they agreed to work together on the case, 
Jimmie being confident that Hilary was innocent. Then Jimmie heard from his aunt that she 
had received a wire from Hilary reading: “Tell Jimmie Twyford.” Jimmie, Garfield, and Ser- 
geant Wade at once went to Twyford. 

When the train on which Hilary and Nora was traveling stopped at Twyford, Nora had 
made a signal and Eston had entered the carriage. He told Hilary that she would have to go 
with him. She managed to write and give to a porter the message that had reached Jimmie. 

When they reached Twyford, Garfield and Jimmie learned that Eston and the two girls had 
been taken three miles into the country in a carriage, and there picked up by a waiting automobile. 
At the spot where this transfer had been made they had an encounter with Eston, disguised as a 
police officer, and Garfield purposely allowed him to escape. Jimmie reluctantly consented to 
Garfield’s request that he help find Hilary by means of newspaper publicity, and when they met 
the other reporters on the case told them that he would shalre his story with them. 

From police sources Garfield learned that, some years previously, Saxon had married an English 
girl, known as Hilary Sloane, in America; also that he was being blackmailed. There was also 
evidence to the effect that Hilary had never been in America. 

Nora and Hilary were being held on a house-boat by Eston, who begged Hilary to marry 
him, and threatened her when she would not consent. Upon the arrival of the police he and 
the girls escaped in a motor-car. Hilary left a note for Jimmie, saying that she was remaining 
with Nora and Eston so that she could clear herself. On the envelope she had hastily penciled 
the single word : “ London.” 


CHAPTER XX. 

KNUCKLEDUSTER SAYS “ NO.” 

‘Tk yEVER let a trail get cold,” is one of 
I the unwritten axioms of Scotland 
1 x Yard and Garfield owed no little 
of his success in his career to his unswerving 
tenacity in clinging to a scent. He left 
only a couple of men at Twyford to co- 
operate with the local police in case of ac- 
cidents, and with the big car packed full of 
his staff made his way back to town. 

Hilary’s letter had helped in more ways 

This story began in the All-Story Weekly for January 10. 


than one, and being a human being as well 
as a detective, he could understand her res- 
olution to remain with Eston and Nora 
Dring. Yet he was disappointed, for there 
was much on which he was anxious to ques- 
tion the girl. 

He had no doubt that, in good time, he 
would be able to run Eston down; that was 
inevitable. What he chiefly needed, how- 
ever, was enough evidence to present a 
convincing case against both Eston and 
against the murderer — or murderess. That 
was where Hilary could have helped. 


414 


THE BIG STORY. 


415 


If Eston had returned to London, there 
were ways and means of smoking him out. 
Part of the way back to town Garfield 
occupied with pencil and paper. Long be- 
fore they reached the western outskirts, he 
had drawn up instructions that on his arri- 
val at Scotland Yard would be flashed over 
the private wires to every one of the two 
hundred police stations in the metropolis. 

There are more than six hundred detec- 
tives in London, to say nothing of twenty 
thousand or more of the uniformed force. 
The instructions would automatically reach 
both, but it was on the Criminal Investiga- 
tion Department that Garfield chiefly re- 
lied. 

Velvet Fred was, in the hackneyed 
phrase, well known to the police, and Jim, 
who had assisted in overpowering one of 
Garfield’s staff, was perhaps not less well 
known as “ Knuckleduster ” — a young in- 
ternational crook who had played a promi- 
nent part in several bank “ hold-ups ” in 
the United States, and was believed to be a 
leading spirit in several daring diamond rob- 
beries that had been effected in London. 

Eston himself was only a name to most 
detectives; he was too clever to have ever 
become familiar to his natural enemies. Yet 
he had an awkward team to handle and if 
the police could only lay hands upon one 
of them— Garfield was no believer in third- 
degree methods, yet he had his own ways of 
persuasion. 

Wade dropped off the car at Hammer- 
smith. He was still in flannels and as there 
remained work for him to do that evening, 
he took the opportunity to change. 

Later in the evening he turned up, a big- 
built, well-groomed man, in scrupulous 
evening dress over which he wore a light 
coat, in the West End. Half a dozen men 
west and east were on a similar quest to 
his— not excluding Garfield himself. 

It is only on very exceptional occasions 
that detectives take the risk of facial dis- 
guise. The dangers of using stage proper- 
ties in public are too great. The real art 
of the detective is to camouflage himself so 
that he is not too obvious or obtrusive 
among his surroundings. 

Wade was going to rake the West End — 
therefore he wore evening dress, but to any 


one who knew him, he was just the same 
old Wade. If he had been going east, he 
would have had a dirty face, uncombed hair, 
untidy clothes, and a muffler instead of a 
white collar. 

Steadily, systematically, he worked his 
way through a series of saloon bars, restau- 
rants, and night clubs. At most of them 
he was recognized; at very few did he refuse 
to take a drink with some friendly acquain- 
tance or other. In some cases, indeed, he 
deliberately sought out men and invited 
them to dnnk with him. None refused, al- 
though in some cases, there was a shade of 
nervousness or constraint in their manner. 

Wade drank much that night — chiefly 
ginger ale. For weeks afterward the very 
thought of ginger ale sickened him. Fie had 
need of all his wits and he did not propose 
to drown them. 

The men he selected to drink with were 
mainly associates, or possible intimates, of 
Velvet Fred or Knuckleduster. Wade had 
no airs. He might be a detective by pro- 
fession, but this, he led those with whom he 
consorted to believe, was his night off and 
he was just a good fellow among good fel- 
lows. Somehow, however, the conversa- 
tion always swung round to either one or 
both of Eston ’s two assistants. 

“ Talking of that,” Wade would observe 
genially, “ I haven’t heard much of young 
Knuckleduster lately. How’s he getting 
along? Well, here’s how,” and he would 
tilt his glass for another drink. 

There is a hoary lie that there is honor 
among thieves. There is sometimes com- 
munity of interest among thieves, but there 
is never honor. If there were, half the ef- 
fectiveness of the detective forces of the 
world would be swept away. 

The backbone of all efficient detective 
work is the informant. Sometimes the in- 
formant volunteers information and some- 
times he is sought out as Wade was now 
seeking him. Seldom is there any reluctance 
to talk, save through fear or self-interest. 

Every man with whom Wade spoke that 
evening guessed that the detective’s casual 
inquiry had something behind it, yet they 
were willing enough to talk so long as they 
themselves were not concerned. 

Although the detective learned much, of 


416 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


which he made a mental note for future ref- 
erence, he gained little to his immediate pur- 
pose for some hours. After a time, how- 
ever, he strolled into a little public-house in 
the network of streets between Oxford Street 
and Leicester Square, and his eye roved 
casually round the habitues. 

A thin, weedy looking youth caught that 
glance and immediately tried to melt 
among a group of people at one of the lit- 
tle tables. Wade smiled beneath his mus- 
tache and moved forward, looking anywhere 
but in the direction of the youth. 

The other sighed heavily with relief and 
tried to make an unobtrusive exit. He had 
about reached the door when Wade’s hand 
fell on his shoulder and he started vio- 
lently. 

“ Feeling pretty shy to-night, Jack. What 
are you trying to dodge me for?” 

“Why, it’s Mr. Wade!” Jack made an 
effort to conceal profound astonishment. 
“ I wasn’t trying to dodge you, sir. I was — 
just going.” 

Wade tucked his arm through that of his 
victim and felt him shivering like a trapped 
rabbit. “ So I see,” he remarked pleasantly. 
“ Well, there’s no need to be in a hurry. 
Come and have one with me. Don’t get 
W’ind up, my lad. I’ve got nothing against 
you just now.” 

“ Sure, Mr. Wade,” agreed Jack obsequi- 
ously, but disengaging his arm with a cer- 
tain relief. “ What’ll you ’ave?” 

“ Dry ginger, please,” said Wade with in- 
ward nausea. “ I’m on the water wagon 
for a bit. Well, here’s luck. How’s things 
going with you?” 

For a while conversation rambled round 
various points until at last Wade brought it 
to a definite question. 

“ Knuckleduster?” repeated Jack, echo- 
ing the name. “ Why, yes. He's about. I 
saw him to-night — not half an hour ago.” 

“ Ah.” Wade fingered his drink, out- 
wardly with only perfunctory interest in 
the conversation, inwardly with tense watch- 
fulness. “ I was w'ondering what had hap- 
pened to him. Where did you see him?” 

“ He was ’aving dinner with a baby doll 
up at Duller’s in Piccadilly. He didn’t 
speak. He seemed to be enjoying himself 
and I didn’t want to interfere.” 


“ That so? Glad he’s managing to keep 
out of worse mischief,” said Wade. “ Well, 

I must be off, Jack. Early to bed and early 
to rise, you know — well, so long.” He 
nodded and strolled out. 

Duller’s— which is not its real name — is a 
well-known restaurant, lavish of gilt and 
glate-glass and beloved of suburban resi- 
dents who “ see life” in town once in a 
while. Wade kept his eyes open as he made 
his way thither, and delayed long enough 
to pick two plain-clothes men off their 
patrols. 

He was not afraid to tackle Knuckle- 
duster singlehanded, but he believed in tak- 
ing precautions. If the crook caught sight 
of him too soon, he might make a bolt, and 
it was as well to have the exits guarded. 

Posting his men at the doors, he walked 
into the restaurant. The manager hastened 
forward to greet him. Wade was a well- 
known figure in places of this kind. 

“ Just lookin’ for a friend of mine,” said 
the detective. “ It will be all right. You 
leave me alone.” 

It was on the basement floor that he at 
last found Knuckleduster. The young gen- 
tleman was seated at a table with the lady 
Wade’s informant had described as a baby 
doll — a young lady with a very loud laugh, 
bright blue eyes and a somewhat transpar- 
ent green frock cut low. They had reached 
the liquer stage, and Knuckleduster was 
leaning across the table in an amorous at- 
tempt to make the lady take a sip from his 
creme de menthe when his jaw dropped and 
he stiffened in his chair. 

“ It’s all right, Knuckleduster,” said 
Wade, quietly dropping into a seat facing 
him. “ I’m not a ghost.” 

There was a tinkle of glass as Knuckle- 
duster’s hand dropped heavily on the table. 
Yet he turned fierce fighting eyes on the de- 
tective. 

“ I don’t know you,” he said defiantly. . 
“ Who in blazes are you, and what do you 
mean buttin’ in on us like this?” 

“ Sock ’im in the jaw,” advised his in- 
amorata considerately. 

“ You’ve got a short memory, Knuckle- 
duster,” said W T ade quietly. “ My name’s 
Wade. I’m a police officer. If the lady 
will be kind enough to leave us for a little 


THE BIG STORY. 


417 


while, I want to talk over some business 
with you. I’ve just come from Twyford,” 
he added meaningly. 

Knuckleduster’s manner changed. “ Oh, 
all right, Mr. Wade. Take no notice of 
Gwennie. She’s liable to get excited. I’ll 
just see her off the premises and then we’ll 
have that talk.” 

“ Sit right down,” advised Wade quietly, 
but with a note of command in his voice. 
“ Gwennie can find her own way out, I 
believe. You’ll have to excuse us, my dear. 
This is all going to be very private.” 

“ Right. Beat it, Gwen,” ordered Knuck- 
leduster, and settled himself defiantly in 
his chair. 

The girl looked from one man to the 
other, and then, with a shrug of her shoul- 
ders and a shrill laugh, left them. Wade 
waited until she was out of earshot. 

“I’m afraid I’ve got to take you in, 
Knuckleduster,” he said. 

“ What for?” The other was brusk. 
“ You ain’t got nothing on me.” 

“ I don’t know what you call nothing,” 
said Wade, “ but if a little thing like beating 
up a police officer with a sandbag is noth- 
ing, you’re on. I’ve got the goods on you, 
laddie, and it’s no good putting up a 
squeal.” 

“ You’re' a liar,” said Knuckleduster 
bluntly. “ I ain’t been near Twyford to- 
day and I can prove it.” 

“ How did you know this assault took 
place at Twyford,” retorted Wade. “ Don’t 
be a damned fool! Why, we can easily 
identify you — you and Eston and Velvet 
Fred. You’re for it good and proper, this 
time.” 

I’ll' wait till you prove it,” declared the 
other. He was the type of criminal that al- 
ways believed the other man was bluffing 
until it came to a show-down. 

“ That may not be necessary,” said 
Wade. “ We’ve got it on you, and you were 
a sucker to come out to-night. 

“ If you’re a sensible man, though, it 
won’t need to go much farther. I’d hate to 
have to jug a man like you. Why can’t we 
talk this over as between pals — you and I 
and the guvnor?” 

“ Come across,” said Knuckleduster 
suspiciously, “ I don’t get you.” 

7 A-S 


Wade looked him squarely in the eyes. 
“ Oh, yes, you do,” he answered firmly. 

“ You’re asking me to squeal on Eston.” 

“ I’m asking you to save your own skin. 
You’re up against it, Knuckleduster, and 
you know it. Are you going with the rest 
of ’em or are you going to take a chance 
and give us a straight griffin?”. 

Knuckleduster’s jaw set hard and he met 
Wade’s eyes with a gaze as straight as his 
own. “ Let’s get this without any camou- 
flage,” he said. “ If I cough up all I know, 
you’ll let me make a clean get-away?” 

Wade hesitated. It is a ticklish busi- 
ness getting a statement from a man impli- 
cated in a crime. The law is a jealous 
task-master. 

“ That all depends,” he parried. “ We 
might pass over this affair at Twyford if — if 
there’s nothing else. The man isn’t very 
seriously hurt.” 

“ You gotta give me a clean sheet,” per- 
sisted Knuckleduster. 

“ Not on your life,” said Wade. “ You 
can talk or you can keep your trap shut, 
which you like. If you do the last, you’ll 
take what’s coming to you. What about 
it?” 

“Nope!” declared Knuckleduster, and 
shut his jaws tight. 

“ Well,” said Wade smoothly, no trace 
of the chagrin he felt in his face. “ I think 
we’d better be taking a walk along, 
Knuckleduster.” 

Arm in arm, like two friends engaged in 
intimate conversation, the two men walked 
through the crowded dining-rooms and out 
of the restaurant. 


CHAPTER XXI. 

A GETAWAY. 

W HILE Knuckleduster cooled his heels 
in a cell at Grape Street police-sta- 
tion Wade got busy on the tele- 
phone. His conversation with Garfield at 
Scotland Yard was short and correct. When 
he at last laid down the receiver he winked 
portentously at Rack, the divisional detec- * 
tive inspector, who was standing at his el- 
bow. 

“ Downy, old bird, Garfield,” he ob- 


418 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


served. “ He tells me not to charge this 
man yet. He doesn’t want any steps thken 
to identify him.” 

Rock frowned a little. After all, he was 
a divisional detective inspector in charge of 
one of the most important districts in Lon- 
don, and Wade was only a first-class ser- 
geant. He believed in being on good terms 
with his subordinates, but he rather re- 
sented familiarity. 

“ I have always found Mr. Garfield a 
very able man,” he declared pompously. 
“ He’s got some sound reason at the back 
of his head whatever he decides to do.” 

Wade was as quick to accept a hint as 
most men. “ You can bet your life on 
that, sir,” he said, accenting the “ sir ” a 
trifle. “ He’s going to use Knuckleduster 
as a stool-pigeon, and he suggests that you 
can help.” 

“ H’m.” Rock fingered his chin. “ What 
does he want me to do?” 

“ He asks if you’ll question this man as 
closely as possible, particularly as to what 
he knows of Eston. He thinks it likely you 
will be able to drag something valuable out 
of him, though speaking for myself, I judge 
that he’ll keep a tight mouth. He’s no raw 
hand, is Knuckleduster.” 

“ You must know,” said Rock, more 
amiably. His occasional little bursts of 
pomposity were more a mannerism than 
anything else and he had earned the posi- 
tion he held by able and clever work. 
“ Still — suppose I fall down in this? What 
then?” 

Again Wade so far forgot the difference 
in their ranks as to let his lid tremble. 
“ Why, then,” he said, “ I’m to take him 
up to the Yard to see Mr. Garfield himself. 
Mr. Garfield is very anxious to see him, 
though somehow I don’t think they’ll meet 
quite in that way.” 

Now, suspected spies were occasionally 
taken to New Scotland Yard during the 
great war .for purposes of interrogation by 
specialists, but to take an ordinary criminal 
prisoner there from a police station is an ex- 
traordinary thing. There was no apparent 
reason why Garfield should not come to 
Grape Street himself. Rock scrutinized 
Wade’s brick-red immobile face steadily. 

“ What’s the game?” he demanded. 


“ Why ” — Wade made a slight gesture 
with the open palms of his hands — “ I take 
Knuckleduster up to the Yard myself. No 
other must. I don’t take a cab or even 
handcuff him. Somewhere, somehow, while 
we are walking along together what hap- 
pens?” 

“ You take your eyes off him,” broke in 
Rock smilingly. 

“ I’ve never lost a prisoner in my serv- 
ice,” protested Wade solemnly, “ but if he 
should chance to get away perhaps it 
wouldn’t be a black mark against me. It 
might happen by luck that we’d have one or 
two people to follow him up. 

“ Knuckleduster will hot-foot it, likely 
enough, to wherever Eston’s hang-out may 
be. It’s all a chance, but there are men 
keping an eye on the little lady who brought 
him out to-night and we’ll be able to pick 
him up again.” 

Knuckleduster Jim was surly when the 
deputation of two detectives accompanied 
by a jailer called on him in his cell. He 
felt that luck had played him a shabby 
trick. He was reclining in his shirt sleeves 
on the thick board couch, glumly contem- 
plating his stockinged feet when the door 
opened and shut again with a clang. 

“ Well, Jim,” said Wade cheerfully, 
“ been thinking it over?” 

Knuckleduster’s gaze never shifted from 
his feet. He sat glum and silent. 

“ Come, my man,” said Rock sharply. 
“ Pull yourself together. We want to help 
you all we can.” 

The prisoner gave a short rasping laugh. 
“ Say — I know all about that,” he sneered. 

Rock laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. 

“ I hate to see a man go down because 
he’s been played for a sucker by some one 
else. You’ve been let in for this. I guess 
that man you dropped across down at Twy- 
ford is pretty bad. 

“ Suppose you go down for attempted 
murder? Don’t you hold out too much 
hopes on Eston, my lad. He may be in the 
pen himself to-morrow. Where will you be 
then? Better cough up and give us a 
hand.” 

Knuckleduster gave a contemptuous 
grunt. “ Say your little piece,” he sneered. 
“ What am I?” 


THE BIG STORY. 


419 


“ Just a blame fool,” retorted Rock. 
“ You don’t know who are your friends.” 

“ Yes, I do.” Jim’s upper lip contorted 
so that they could see his gums. “ Your 
bluff don’t go. Just you chew on that.” 

A quick glance passed between the two 
detectives. They realized that it was hope- 
less. Nothing they could do or say was 
likely to move the crook. His mind was 
plainly made up to defy them and when a 
criminal of Knuckleduster’s caliber is ob- 
durate co.axing and threats are futile. 

“ Get your boots and coat on,” ordered 
Wade. “ You’re coming with me.” 

“ Where to?” Jim swung himself up and 
languidly began to thrust one arm in the 
sleeve of his coat. 

“ Up to New Scotland Yard. Mr. Garfield 
wants to have a talk with you.” 

Slowly, rather as one voluntarily conde- 
scending to a favor than as being forced to 
a course of action whether he willed or not, 
Knuckleduster assembled his attire. Rock 
pressed the bell that summoned the jailer 
and presently the judas hole that enabled 
one to see the interior of a cell from with- 
out, without opening the door, dropped 
back. At Rock’s word the jailer opened 
the door and they passed into the corri- 
dor, Wade’s hand encircling the prisoner’s 
wrist. 

As they walked into the big bare charge- 
room Jim remembered something. “ We 
coming back here?” he demanded. 

“ Sure thing,” said Wade. “ Why?” 

“ Only there’s that stuff they took off 
me. I don’t want to lose that.” 

The usual formality of search had been 
made when he had been brought to the 
charge-room, but Wade, being in a hurry, 
had not followed the usual custom of mak- 
ing an inventory. Nor had he confined 
himself to merely relieving the prisoner of 
knife, matches and other articles with which 
he might do injury. He had simply 
cleared his pockets and left examination 
till later. 

“ You won’t lose any of it that you’re 
properly entitled to,” said Wade. To the 
station sergeant in charge of the room he 
added:- “You might send it along to the 
Yard, if you don’t mind — I’d like to look it 
over some time.” 


If Knuckleduster had suspected the 
elaborate arrangements that had been made 
in order that he might once again take the 
air of freedom, he might have been grate- 
ful. On the other hand, he might not. As 
they strolled down Regent Street toward 
Trafalgar Square, he was restlessly on the 
alert. 

All Wade’s genial approaches at conver- 
sation were wasted on him. He did not in- 
tend to talk — even about the weather. One 
never knew these bulls from Scotland Yard. 

It was in Cockspur Street that chance 
took a hand. A stout man, lumbering heav- 
ily in pursuit of an overloaded bus, brushed 
blindly into the detective sergeant. Wade 
staggered back and his grip on his prisoner 
loosened. In an instant Jim had wrenched 
himself free, while the detective measured 
his length on the pavemnt. 

So far as Knuckleduster was concerned, 
it was fortunate that an empty taxicab 
should glide slowly by at that moment. He 
pulled open the door and stood on the run- 
ning-board for a second while he addressed 
the driver. 

“ Chancery Lane,’’ he said, “ and rush 
it.” 

Satisfied that his injunction was being 
obeyed, he slipped inside and flung himself 
upon the cushions 'with a grin. Circum- 
stances had fallen his way and having a 
large stock of human nature, Knuckle- 
duster was inclined to take the credit to 
himself. 

At any rate he had gained full advan- 
tage from them. It was not every man who 
could escape from custody in broad daylight 
in a frequented street, with the daring and 
cleanness that he had shown. 

His self-congratulation might have been 
less undiluted had he known that another 
taxicab containing four men was rolling 
along not fifty yards behind him. Further 
back still, Wade and the fat man who had 
been the original cause of the contretemps 
were walking amicably together toward 
Scotland Yard. 

“ As good as a picture show,” declared 
the fat man. “ You’ve missed your voca- 
tion, Wade. You ought to be on the stage.” 

“ I reckon Knuckleduster is riding away 
now and hugging himself at his own clever- 


420 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


ness,” said Wade. “ Well, we’ve got sev- 
eral ends to Work on now — things ought 
to be coming our way pretty soon.” 

Meanwhile, as Knuckleduster fondly 
imagined, he was being carried farther and 
farther away from the instruments of jus- 
tice. The luck that had sent the cab along 
just at the precise psychological moment 
never occurred to him as odd. 

Yet he was no fool. He knew that the 
chances were that Wade had had time 
after his recovery to take the number of 
the cab. In any event, taxicabs were al- 
ways easily traced. 

That was why he had given Chancery 
Lane as a direction in which to drive. 
Chancery Lane could afford no hint to 
those who followed up his trail. Within 
easy walking distance of that thoroughfare 
there were tubes, omnibuses and trams to 
every part of London. It would be odd if, 
in the circumstances, he couldn’t make a 
clean get-away. 

Yet he overlooked one fact — a fact which 
came as a shock to him when he realized it. 
He had no money. Every article of value 
he had on him had been taken when he 
was searched at Grape Street. 

Knuckleduster cursed fluently as he 
thrust his hands hastily through his pockets 
with a faint hope that something might 
have been overlooked. It was vain. 

In ordinary circumstances the prospect 
of trouble with a bilked taxi-driver would 
have weighed little on his mind. Now, 
however, he could not afford to have an al- 
tercation, which might end in the inter- 
vention of the police. 

The cab slowed up at a slight block in 
the traffic and Knuckleduster cautiously un- 
latched the door. Standing on the run- 
ning-board he watched his opportunity and 
dropped off in the roadway. 

Then he took to his heels in the direc- 
tion of Kingsway, where he plunged off to 
the right. Meanwhile four men in the 
other taxi were gliding behind in easy pur- 
suit. Not till he slowed to a walk did it 
stop to let two men emerge, who sauntered 
in the same general direction, while the 
cab kept well in the background. 

Knuckleduster had got away— at the end 
of a piece of string. 


After twenty minutes of easy walking He* 
came to one of those severe Victorian by- 
streets of Bloomsbury, lined with the tall, 
ugly basement houses so familiar to the 
Bloomsbury boarder. He ascended the 
half-dozen steps to the front door and 
pressed the bell three times. The door 
opened without any obvious person behind 
it and Knuckleduster passed within. 

Outside a couple of men strolled casually 
by and at the top of the street a taxi, 
obeying some unobtrusive signal, halted 
and Chief Detective Inspector Garfield and 
Jimmie Silverdale descended. 


CHAPTER XXII. 

AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS. 

T HERE arrive moments when a Crim- 
inal Investigation Department man 
has to take chances; if possible, how- 
ever, he prefers as a general rule to act 
on certainties. Cello Street, Bloomsbury — 
that is not its real name — was a short street 
containing at the most fifty or sixty houses, 
of which No. 1 5, the house which Knuckle- 
duster had entered, was roughly the center. 

Once those two men had strolled by No. 
IS, Garfield took no further chances of 
alarming his quarry till he was good and 
ready. A couple of men picketed one end 
of the street. At the other hand a taxi- 
driver was tinkering away with some ma- 
chinery in the bonnet of his car. 

In the car, idly enjoying a cigarette, sat 
Jimmie Silverdale. Garfield had disap- 
peared in search of a telephone and present- 
ly returned humming a comic song. 

“ If I’m right in the guess I’m making, 
Jimmie, this may be an amusing night.” 
Silverdale lifted his shoulders. “ Always 
a chance of its being a wild-goose chase. 
This pigeon of yours — Knuckleduster Jim 
may not be with Eston at all. He may be 
putting up at an ordinary boarding-house.” 
“ That’s conceivable, Jimmie, but ” — 
Garfield carefully tapped out his pipe on 
the heel of his shoe — “ but not very likely. 
You see, I know Cello Street — and I know 
Knuckleduster. I wouldn’t be at all sur- 
prised at anything Eston did, but Knuckle- 
duster has his limitations. 


THE BIG STORY. 


421 


“ That’s probably why Eston is using 
him. And if I’m not away off my guess, 
I’ll tell you another thing. Three or per- 
haps four of these austere old-fashioned 
houses are fitted up as gambling bells — per- 
haps something worse. Eston’s adroit — 
I’ll give him his due. At certain times there 
is probably a very keen lookout about here 
for any persons who look as if they were 
contemplating a police raid. 

“ I’m prepared to bet there’s a bolt-hole 
round one of these back streets and I want 
to stop it before we get busy. I’ve phoned 
through to Wade to bring half a dozen 
men.” 

With the arrival of his reinforcements, 
Garfield was able to direct a quiet investi- 
gation of the neighboring streets. Hie bolt- 
hole he suspected he found in a narrow 
alley, giving access to the back entrances 
of Cello Street. There he posted three 
men. 

Having thus inspected the enemies’ quar- 
ters, he held a little council of war with 
Silverdale and Wade, well put of sight of 
the place that was being kept, as the tech- 
nical phrase goes, “ under observation.” In- 
deed, to the casual passer-by there was no 
indication that anything unusual was stir- 
ring, or about to stir, the neighborhood. 

An hour passed. Now and again a man 
or woman would enter the watched house. 
Two people had come from it, and once out 
of sight of the place, they had been stopped 
and questioned. Both adopted the same 
attitude of haughty resentment that col- 
lapsed like a pile of bricks when they real- 
ized that bluffing was no good. 

“ Look here,” said Garfield. “ You have 
been frequenting a gaming-house. That 
is illegal and as a police officer, one should 
have a perfect right to arrest you. That 
is a course I am not anxious to take if 
you are reasonable. 

“ I’m not going to run any risks of a 
hint getting back that we are on the job. 
If you’re willing to go to the nearest police- 
station with one of my men and wait there 
for an hour, you’ll hear no more of this. 
I take it you are anxious to avoid publicity. 
Now what do you say?” 

In each case, they said “ yes.” More, a 
little adroit questioning revealed several 


things that it was good to know. As a re- 
sult, Jimmie found himself deputed to make 
a reconnaissance of the house itself. 

“ I’d go myself,” said Garfield, “ but it’s 
toe much of a chance that some one will 
know me. And we mustn’t let Knuckle- 
duster catch sight of Wade. “ Here ” — he 
drew a police-whistle from his trousers 
pocket — “ take this and you can bet we’ll 
come a running if we’re needed. 

“ But we want to do the business quietly 
•and neatly, if we can. I hate to make a 
fuss. You’ll have to take your chance of 
Eston. Here’s a card if you need one. It’s 
always useful to have a spare card.” 

There was no immediate answer to Jim- 
mie’s ring at the door of No. 15. He 
stepped inside as the door, actuated by 
some unseen mechanism, glided open and 
immediately shut again as he crossed the 
threshold. He was in a dimly lighted hall, 
shoddily furnished — just such a hall as one 
might have expected from the exterior as- 
pect of the house, save ' that three or four 
yards along, the passage was blocked by 
another door. 

He had an uncanny sense that, although 
he saw no one, he was being scrutinized 
and in a while the other door opened. A 
middle-aged man in well-fitting evening- 
dress appeared. 

“ Did you want any one, sir?” he de- 
manded. 

“ Well,” drawled Jimmie with well-as- 
sumed nonchalance, carrying out the in- 
structions he had received from the people 
bagged by Garfield, “ they do tell me that 
Mr. Smith lives here — Mr. Jones sent me.” 
He presented the card Garfield bad given 
him. 

“ Ah, yes. Captain lies. Delighted to 
see you, captain. Won’t you come in? It’s 
a little early yet, and we haven’t many 
people here, but perhaps you’ll take some 
refreshments.” 

The interior apartment to which Silver- 
dale was introduced was in great contrast 
to the hall. Two rooms apparently had 
been thrown into one and decorated and 
furnished with lavish disregard of cost. A 
heavy carpet, on which every sound was 
deadened, covered the floor and the walls 
were panelled in rich mahogany. 


422 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


Palms, big armchairs and little occasional 
tables gave it something the appearance 
of a lounge of an expensive club, and the 
center of the room was occupied by a table, 
now surrounded by a group of people who 
were intently watching the spin of a rou- 
lette-wheel. 

“ Zero,” announced the croupier, and a 
hum of conversation broke out among the 
punters as the bank raked their money in. 
“ Make your game, ladies and gentlemen.” 

In a swift glance, Silverdale failed to 
recognize any one. His new acquaintance 
led him toward a small service-bar and 
ordered drinks. 

“ Here’s to our better acquaintance, cap- 
tain. I haven’t seen you here before, but 
I trust you’ll be along now and again. 

“ What are you going to play? There’s 
roulette, you see, and we have baccarat up- 
stairs. Or, letting you into a secret, a few 
of us have a little room of our own up- 
stairs where we play poker — just a select 
game, you understand. Of course we have 
to be very careful and our clients are al- 
ways cautious in their introductions. By 
the way, you gave the formula, but you 
didn’t say who really sent you.” 

Silverdale finished his drink. Here was a 
danger he had hoped to avoid. There was, 
however, no help for it. He must face 
the situation. 

“ That’s funny,” he declared. “ A chap 
at the club put me on to this. I know 
him as well as I know my own brother, 
but for the life of me I can’t remember his 
name.” 

“ What club?” 

Jimmie named one of the most exclu- 
sive clubs in London — a club that appeared 
on the card Garfield had lent him, and the 
other nodded, apparently satisfied. “ It 
would be Colonel Slaron, I expect — yes, 
that’s probably who it is. He’s a member 
of that show.” 

“ He was a colonel, I believe,” admitted 
Jimmie, dismissing the point. “ If you 
don’t mind, I’ll just wander round for a 
little and watch things. I don’t quite know 
what I’ll fall for yet. I just slipped in on 
the spur of the moment.” 

“ Make yourself at home,” urged his new 
friend, and left him. 


Jimmie obeyed the injunction as literal- 
ly as possible. In such a place as he judged 
this to be, a few pounds would not go far 
and he had only about ten in his pocket. 
He staked two ten-shilling notes on roulette 
and lost. 

A gambler by instinct, he yet refrained 
from risking more at that moment. He 
could not tell how long it would be neces- 
sary to remain in the place and it was as 
well to have some money in reserve. 

He wandered around the place, keenly 
alert to every detail. If Garfield was right, 
Hilary Sloane was somewhere in the build- 
ing and, if possible, he wanted to see her. 

For a while he sat in at baccarat. Play- 
ing as lightly as possible, he found luck 
with him. In the course of half an hour, 
his capital had turned into fifty pounds. 
Then the luck changed. He lost ten and 
rose. 

No one paid any attention to him, as 
hands in pockets, he sauntered about, ap- 
parently intently interested in the pictures 
which were displayed on most of the walls. 
Whenever he came to a door, he tried it, 
but invariably those leading to the private 
portion of the house were locked. 

He had half made up his mind to return 
and let the detective ransack the place by 
force when a big white panel in die ante- 
room of the saloon where baccarat was 
being played swung outward and a woman 
emerged. Silverdale shrank behind a statue 
of Mercury and held his breath. It was 
Nora Dring. 

She did not observe him and passed 
down-stairs with quiet self-possession. The 
■moment she was out of sight, Silverdale 
was at the panel, his fingers searching for 
the spring he knew must control it. 

He found it at last and dipped through, 
closing the panel behind him. A small 
flight of stairs led upward and Jimmie fol- 
lowed them. 

A woman passing along the corridor 
caught a glimpse of him, gave a gasp, and 
came to a halt. 

“ Jimmie 1 Jimmie!” she whispered. 

Regardless of the need for caution he 
sprang up the remaining stairs with out- 
stretched arms. All he knew was that 
Hilary Sloane was waiting for him. 


THE BIG STORY. 


423 


Before he reached her, however, he re- 
coiled. A blue-tinted barrel was behind the 
girl and behind that the lean, sardonic face 
of Eston. 

“ Good evening, Mr. Silverdale,” he said. 
“ I told you we should meet again. 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

JIMMIE SILVEEDALE’s CHANCE. 

T O face the business end of an auto- 
matic was no new thing to Jimmie 
Silverdale. Yet four years of war, 
so far from making him careless, had given 
him a keen appreciation of the potentiali- 
ties of a deadly weapon in the hands of a 
determined man. 

A reckless man may be brave; but he 
is usually a fool. There were men who 
could have borne tribute to Jimmie’s cour- 
age; and these same men could also have 
told that he was far from being a fool. 

He stood stock-still and a slow grin 
spread over Ms face. 

“ Why, it’s my dear old friend, Eston l n 
he exclaimed. 

Eston advanced a step, and with his left 
hand thrust Hilary behind him. He held 
his pistol very steadily. 

“ Just myself, Mr. Silverdale,” he said 
softly. “You expected to see me, of course 
— but not at this precise moment. Keep 
very still, please. I fancy you were trying 
to edge alojg a trifle and I prefer to have 
you at a reasonable distance. I’m a little 
at tension myself and something might hap- 
pen if you moved. I suppose you are, so to 
speak, an advance courier for the Scotland 
Yard folk.” 

Jimmie yawned. “ Dear old lad,” ‘he 
drawled. “ Still playing lead for the pic- 
tures. For an intelligent man, Eston, you 
make me tired. You know as well as I 
do that you daren’t murder me. It isn’t 
done, old boy. 

“ Put down that howitzer and take things 
reasonably. In about an hour’s time, when 
you’re sitting comfortably in a nice, cool 
cell and are able to think things over, you 
will realize that tMs is good advice. You’re 
hooked, old bean.” 

There was a sneer on Eston’s face. “ All 


very humorous, I’ve no doubt,” he said. 
“ I’ve never been a funny man myself and 
I’m not at all alarmed, thank you. I know 
that Knuckleduster didn’t make a getaway 
to-night through his own brains. 

“ It was a frame-up, as I guessed. I’ve 
been expecting you and your friends for 
some considerable time.” 

“ Well, I’m here,” said Silverdale coolly. 

“ Yes, you’re here.” I think you'll stop 
here, too. I’ve made arrangements for just 
such a contingency. I’m afraid the Daily 
Wire will soon be missing one live, very 
alert, reporter. You see—” 

Hilary suddenly gave a cry and sprang 
forward. “ Look out, Jimmie! ” 

She was too late. From behind two men 
had stealthily approached while the jour- 
nalist was being held in conversation and, 
taken from behind, he stood not a dog's 
chance. In a few seconds he was lying 
prone, a heavy knee presset^into the small 
of bis “back and strong arms wrenching 
his wrists back till' they could be lashed 
behind him. 

At the same moment, Hilary had tried 
to spring past Eston to Jimmie’s aid. The 
crook overbalanced and half fed, but re- 
covered himself. He seized the girl roughly 
by the wrists and hurled her backward. 

“ You keep out of this, my lady,” he 
ordered. 

She picked herself up as the men jerked 
Jimmie to his feet. The journalist was veiy 
white. 

“ You — Eston!” he snarled. “ I’ll find a 
way to get even -with you for this!” 

Eston knew that it was not his own pre- 
dicament that had transformed Silverdale's 
jaunty nonchalance to white-hot passion 
and an unpleasant smile passed across his 
features. 

“ The dear lad,” he smirked, repeating 
Silverdale’s words. “ He is a chivalrous 
boy. He doesn’t like to see the pretty dear 
knocked about. Don’t you worry, Silver- 
dale. Hilary and I understand one an- 
other. If I’ve hurt her, a kiss will put it 
right.” 

He stepped back, placed his arm round 
the girl’s waist and bent his evil face to 
hers. “ Won't it, Hilary?” 

Tied though he was, it took the united. 


424 


ALL- STORY WEEKLY. 


strength of his two assailants to hold Jim- 
mie Silverdale back then. Hilary, however, 
fought herself free and, with surprising 
vigor, crashed her fist full in Eston’s face. 
He dropped back with an ugly oath and she 
fled along the corridor. 

Eston wiped his face with a silk hand- 
kerchief and shrugged his shoulders. He 
seemed to have regained control of himself. 

“ A bit of a spitfire, Silverdale,” he ob- 
served, “ but I like ’em, with a little spice. 
Now we’ll have to deal with you. I’m 
afraid I cannot offer you that nice, cool 
cell which you kindly spoke about to me 
just now. 

“ But we’ll try the next best thing — a 
little attic that we have fortunately got 
available as a spare room. I think perhaps 
that it might be advisable if you were 
gagged. I don’t want to seem hard, but we 
never know what may happen.” 

Some one whipped a handkerchief over 
Jimmie’s mouth and then with an escort 
each side he was urged along. Eston led 
the way to what Jimmie judged was the 
topmost floor of the house and he was 
pushed into a tiny, bare windowless room 
with, as he noticed almost automatically, a 
strong, heavy oaken door. , 

“ I guess you will wait for your friends 
here,” said Eston mildly; “ that is, if they 
ever come. Just take a turn round his 
ankles, if you don’t mind. We’ll be on the 
safe side.” 

Lashed hand and foot, Jimmie heard the 
door closed, and the thrusting of the bolts 
and a clash as the key turned, told him 
that Eston was taking no chances. 

To Jimmie Silverdale, tied hand and foot 
in that garret, things became curiously 
quiet. His ears strained to catch the slight- 
est sound, he could hear nothing. Either 
the house was very substantially built or the 
people in it had become very noiseless. 

Apart from the physical discomfort of his 
bonds, and the hard floor, the journalist 
was little worried. It could only be a mat- 
ter of minutes at the longest before Gar- 
field moved. If only he could have smoked 
a cigarette, he could possess his soul in 
patience. It was no use worrying over 
spilled milk. 

Time passed very slowly. He wished 


he could look at his watch. The floor be- 
came intolerably hard and he rolled over on 
his other side for a rest. His wrists and 
his ankles were sore and he had more than 
once felt a twinge of cramp. 

Something must have gone wrong — yet 
what could have gone wrong? Why had 
not the police carried out their raid? It 
must have been an hour — no, more likely 
two hours — since he had got into the place. 
He concentrated on an attempt to free his 
wrists. But there had been no mistake 
when they had been secured. The only 
result of his struggling was an increased 
rawness of the skin. 

Then he caught a slight sound and his 
eyes lighted. Muffled steps were ascending 
the stairs. Jimmie waited alert. 

Bolts clicked back into place and, with 
the turning of the key, Eston slipped quietly 
into the room. He wore a hat and over- 
coat and seemed cool and smiling. He car- 
ried a candle. 

“ Well, Silverdale,” he said. “ I seem to 
have trumped your trick for once. You 
have had a little time for reflection. 

“ Don’t you think you* would be a wise 
man to call quits? You can get all you want 
if you come in with me. Ah, I forgot.” 
He stooped and freed the bound man from 
his gag. “ Now, that’s better. What do 
you think?” 

Silverdale took one or two heavy breaths. 
The gag had oppressed him. “ I’d be able 
to think better if you cut n\y hands and 
feet free,” he observed. 

Eston shook his head smilingly. “ I have 
no doubt,” he retorted. “ You’ll forgive 
me if I remark that I have a great respect 
for your physical prowess. Untill we come 
to some amicable arrangement, I don’t wish 
to put you in the way of temptation. You 
can talk quite well as you are.” 

“ I don’t know that I want to talk to 
you,” said Jimmie. “ You know that every- 
thing you say will be used as evidence 
against you at your trial.” 

The smile on Eston’s face widened to an 
appreciative grin. “ A sense of humor must 
be a great asset to a journalist. There are 
several reasons why what I say will not be 
used against me at my trial. 

“ For one thing I shall never be tried, 


THE BIG STORY. 


425 


Alternatively, as the lawyers say, you will 
not give evidence. Get that? 

“ We’ve go’t to come to a thorough un- 
derstanding right now. Either you play 
partners with me, or the game ceases to 
interest you at all. You’re up against it.” 

“ Really, this sounds interesting. You’re 
going to murder me.” 

“ Oh, dear no. Nothing nearly so crude 
as that. You must give me some credit 
for a little ingenuity, my dear Silverdale. 
It may happen that, in a little while, your 
friends outside — who I have provided with 
occupation for a time— will take it into their 
heads to raid this place. 

“ As a fact, they’ll have to break the 
door down to do it, and meanwhile there is 
enough petrol and enough matches in the 
place to make quite a considerable blaze. 
In the confusion, it is not unlikely that 
you will be overlooked. I’m afraid you are 
liable to get somewhat — ah — scorched, un- 
less you listen to reason.” 

“Don’t bluff.” 

Eston lifted his shoulders. “ I was afraid 
you might think that. Therefore — I am 
going to tell you a few things — things that 
I’d only tell to a trusted ally — or a man 
who will be dead in a few hours.” 

The picture of scornful incredulity out- 
wardly, Silverdale gave an inward shudder. 
He knew enough of Eston to realize that 
he was a man utterly without scruple, es- 
pecially when pushed into a comer. 
.Trapped and surrounded as he was, it was 
likely that he would go to any lengths to 
gain a chance. 

He believed that Eston was speaking the 
truth when he said he had found some 
method to distract the detectives. Other- 
wise, he would merely be wasting time with 
his prisoner. 

“ There were between twenty and thirty 
people in all in this place a little while 
ago,” went on Eston. “ They are mostly 
inoffensive fools with a taste for gambling 
which I try to gratify. You will probably 
have surmised that this place is mine, 
though, as a rule, I take no personal part 
in its management. 

“ Well, I’ve given them and the staff 
orders to clear out in different directions. 
I judge there isn’t an enormous force of 


police in the cordon round about and they’ll 
be reluctant to let any one get away from 
here — as I say, their hands will be pretty 
full. I hate to break faith with my clients, 
but after all, it’s only a question of a fine. 

“ Now I’m going to confess that I played 
a little trick on you when we bottled you 
on the stairs just now. I wanted to find 
out whether you were really in love with 
Hilary — or whether you were playing a 
devil of a deep game — or whether you 
knew, in fact, what I know. 

“ You fell for it. You are in love with 
the girl. What’s more, she is in love with 
you.” 

“ One of these days,” observed Silver- 
dale, “ if you escape the hangman — which 
I doubt — some one will confer a benefit 
on society by strangling you. I’d volunteer 
for the job myself.” 

“ Don’t be hasty. I want you to hear 
me through in patience. You are aware, 
of course, that the lady is not Miss Hilary 
Sloane at all. That she is a widow?” 

A flicker of surprise passed across Jim- 
mie’s face to be instantly suppressed. He 
remembered his conversation with Garfield. 
He was determined to let Eston go as far as 
he would, 

“ I have known Miss Sloane some consid- 
erable time,” he said. “ I suppose it’s waste 
of breath calling you a liar?” 

“ Ah, you are a little astonished! There 
is no reason why I should lie to you. I 
want your help and I am treating you quite 
frankly. The lady was secretly married 
some years ago in America, and she is the 
widow of our late lamented friend, Harold 
Saxon. 

“ More than that ” — he stretched out a 
hand eagerly — “ she is his heiress. Oh, you 
may laugh, but I assure you that I have my 
facts all straight. I have even a copy of 
the marriage-certificate and I know that 
Saxon left the whole of his property to his 
wife.” 

“ That latter point,” said Jimmie, “ ex- 
plains why Velvet committed a burglary 
at Saxon’s flat a few days before the mur- 
der took place.” 

“ Draw what inferences you like,” said 
Eston. “ I am just telling you. Saxon’s 
fortune. I may say, amounts to several mil- 


426 


ALL-STORY WEEKLY. 


lions — a stake worth playing for. I’m no 
piker. If you come in on this, you’re a 
made man.” ' 

Silverdale puckered his brow, as one who 
considered a proposition. “ If all this is 
true,” he said, “ and not a fantastic night- 
mare. Where do I come in? 

> “ I can see something of what you’re 
after, but I don’t see where I fit into the 
scheme. You’re not making me this offer 
out of sheer altruism, I suppose?” 

“ Scarcely,” said Eston dryly. “ Listen. 
I have had this in mind for a year or more, 
ever since I learned that Saxon had made 
a secret marriage. First of all, I had to 
find out where the girl was and chance 
helped me there, since she was living with 
a lady who was under some obligation to 
me.” 

“ Nora Bring?” 

“ That doesn’t matter. What does mat- 
ter is that I found her. I don’t want to 
wear any halo with you and I’ll admit if 
you like that I have made rather a special- 
ity of using my knowledge of little family 
secrets now and again.” 

Don’t trouble about the gloss,” said 
Silverdale. “ Use the word ‘ blackmail.’ 
It’s shorter.” 

“ As you like. I saw further than black- 
mail, though. Blackmail meant at the best 
a few thousands now and again. As I said 
before, I’m no piker. I believe in big busi- 
ness. 

“ If Saxon died, his widow would get 
his money. I took precautions to be sure of 
that. My idea was that I might marry the 
lady and so get my fingers on things. I 
believe I might have carried out that part 
of the program, had there not been compli- 
cations — in other words, yourself.” 

“ You flatter me. As I understand it, 
what you intended to do was to kill Saxon 
and marry his widow?” 

“ If I had killed Saxon,” said Eston, “ I 
shouldn’t have made the mistake of making 
it an obvious murder. That was clumsily 
done. Otherwise you have summed up the 
situation. I took advantage of things. 

“ If you had been less in Hilary’s mind, 
it might have come off, or I might do what 
I shall do if you refuse my terms now and 
make her marry me whatever her feelings 


in the matter. Now, here is my offer. You 
■want to marry her; she wants to marry 
you. I want to finger some of Saxon’s 
money. You will take a million and I will 
take the rest.” 

“ And what about the police?” 

A sneer passed across Eston’s face. “ Oh, 
the police! You and I ought to be able to 
fix things so far as they are concerned. I’m 
not worried about that. They suspect 
Hilary of the murder, but we’ll be able to 
arrange an alibi.” 

“ They don’t suspect Hilary, as you 
know quite well. For 1 ' one thing, die could 
never inherit Saxon’s fortune if she had 
killed him.” 

“ Well?” Eston shrugged his shoulders. 
“ It doesn’t matter who they suspect. I’ll 
give you my word that we’ll be all right. 
Now, time is getting short. I’ve put my 
proposition up to you — what do you think 
of it?” 

Silverdale struggled to a sitting position. 
“ I think you have made a mistake. I’ll 
see. you in the deepest comer of the infernal 
regions before I agree to anything you put 
up. Go away.” 

“ You’re a little overstrained. Just con- 
sider it sanely for a moment. I offer you 
a million pounds more than you are fighting 
for. You only want the girl. 

Why refuse? You’ll have nothing on 
your conscience. Look here, Silverdale, I’m 
in love with Hilary myself. On my soul, 
I shall be almost glad if you refuse.” 

Silverdale rolled over so that his back was 
toward the other and remained contemptu- 
ously silent. 

“ You’ve had your chance,” said Eston. 
“ I’ll be damned if I’ll waste more time 
with you! ” 

The door closed behind him. 


CHAPTER XXIV. 

A WAY OUT. 

S O far as Garfield and the other Criminal 
Investigation Department men who 
were watching the place were con- 
cerned, Eston had estimated the situation 
well when he had turned loose a score of 
people for them to deal with. The chief 


THE BIG STORY. 427 


inspector had too great a respect for the 
capacity of his antagonist to do anything 
hastily or to jump to any assumptions of 
his own. 

Among the scattered crew emerging from 
the house might be Eston himself. He had 
had experience of the crook’s histrionic abil- 
ity. Therefore, he played safety. Men and 
women alike were questioned, scrutinized 
and, despite their protests, hurried off to 
the nearest police-station. 

The provision of escorts wofully skele- 
tonized Garfield’s meager force, but he cal- 
culated that he could well afford to wait. 
There were just enough men to watch the 
place, but not enough to raid it. No one 
puts a ferret in a rabbit-hole until the bolt- 
holes are safely watched. 

The inspector was, perhaps, a little con- 
cerned about Silverdale, whose continued 
absence without giving the signal was, to 
say the least of it, disconcerting. For the 
time, however, Jimmie must look after him- 
self. Garfield was not going to lose his 
quarry by pouncing too hastily. 

One by one his men trickled back to their 
posts, accompanied by other detectives from 
the divisional staffs of local police-stations. 
Garfield took a turn up Cello Street keenly 
alert to discover any signs behind the close- 
ly curtained windows of the gambling- 
house. 

There was nothing. From outside, at 
least, the place was dead. Garfield returned 
to his post at the corner. 

“ I’ll not wait any longer for Silverdale,” 
he told Wade. “ We’ll make a move. 
You take some men and try the back 
street.” 

Accompanied by the divisional detective 
inspector of the district and a couple of 
other officers, he passed quickly back along 
the street and mounted the steps of the 
house. The signal that had secured Silver- 
dale’s admission produced no reply. 

Garfield had scarcely expected that it 
would. The wholesale migration of staff 
and of patrons of the gambling-house had 
been clear proof that the inmates had taken 
alarm. 

Nevertheless, formalities had to be com- 
plied with. Garfield thundered with the 
knocker and gave repeated rings. Then he 


lifted his heavily shod foot and kicked at 
the solid door. 

“ Look!” said the divisional man sudden- 
ly, and Garfield stepped back to follow the 
finger that pointed upward. A thin trickle 
of smoke was emerging from an open sec- 
ond-floor window. 

Garfield ripped out a swear word. He 
realized instantly that Eston had frustrated 
him again. Criminals of that type will 
fight against heavy odds, but they do not 
willingly die in the last ditch. If Eston 
had fired the house, he had done so not to 
die in its ashes, but for it to cover his re- 
treat. 

One of the detectives, without waiting 
for orders, was already running full pelt 
down the road toward a fire-alarm. An- 
other had climbed the railings and, cling- 
ing like a fly to what in similar houses in 
the neighborhood would have been the din- 
ing-room window, protected his hand with a 
cap and, smashing a pane, inserted his arm 
and pulled back the fastening. A wave of 
thick, black, oily smoke gushed out and, 
choking and gasping, he leaped clear. 

“ Smoke-bombs,” observed one of the 
other men. 

Garfield slipped his arm through that of 
the divisional detective inspector and pulled 
him back into the street. 

“ You take charge here,” he said. “ I’ve 
got half an idea and I’m going to chance 
it.” 

It had been a matter of seconds since the 
alarm was given, but already the street, 
which had seemed asleep up to now, save 
for the detectives, was waking up. Heads 
were appearing at windows and half-dressed 
figures at open doors. 

Garfield accosted a pajama-clad mein two 
doors away. “ Who’s the owner or agent 
for this property?” he demanded, and as 
the man gave him the information he de- 
sired, he capped his question by another. 
“ Where’s the nearest telephone?” He ac- 
cepted it as an interposition of Providence 
that there was one in that very house and 
expressing a word of thanks, he was soon 
feverishly turning over the leaves of a tele- 
phone-directory. 

Meanwhile Jimmie Silverdale lay wonder- 
ing what was going to happen. Since Es- 


428 


ALL- STORY WEEKLY. 


ton had left him for the second time, the 
silence that had bothered him before had 
not been quite so obvious. 

There were muffled noises which he could 
not always interpret. Presently a smell of 
burning came to Kim. 

Jimmie Silverdale was a brave man, but 
a shiver shook him from head to foot. Es- 
ton was carrying out his threat, then. 

It is given to few people to face the slow 
approach of the inevitable and painful death 
with stoicism. Jimmie was no stoic. He 
wrenched frenziedly at his bonds until his 
heart felt that it would burst, but still the 
bonds held. 

By some inadvertence Eston had omitted 
to replace the gag and Jimmie raised his 
voice in loud, but what he instinctively 
knew, must be futile cries. If he could only 
have met his fate fighting, he would have 
been happier. 

But to die like this — roasted to death- 
appalled him. For the time, he was a 
trapped, unreasoning, frantic animal. 

He called wildly on Eston, cursing him 
like a mad man. Once or twice he found 
himself imploring Hilary to come and save 
him. Then exhaustion brought him back 
to sanity. 

He regained something of that philosophy 
which every man who has served ip the 
trenches knows. A bullet either had one’s 
name on it or it didn’t. If he was going 
to be saved, he was going to be saved. 
If not — well, he would die in possession of 
his own self-respect, not as a screaming cow- 
ard. He set his lips grimly. 

The smoke was increasing now and ed- 
dying in under the crack of the door. He 
began to cough. He regretted now that the 
gag had been removed. It would at least 
have protected him to some extent from this 
blinding, choking torment. 

He rolled over and tried to hold his 
mouth and nostrils close to the bare boards. 
It was a feeble expedient, but it failed in 
its purpose. 

His nerves were beginning to fail him. 
He saw visions. There were people around 
him — people who were slipping a knife 
under the cords that held him. 

There were voices — dim, faraway voices 
calling him. Why couldn’t they let him 


alone? He was just going to drop into a 
pleasant doze — and now! 

Radring pains affected the musdes of 
his limbs and brought back his fleeting 
senses. 

“ Oh, Jimmie, Jimmie! If you don’t pull 
yourself together, what shall I do?” 

He sat up, shakily. The room was full 
of swirling wreaths of heavy smoke. Dimly 
in the darkness, he made out a figure, gaunt 
and fantastic with something round its head 
that gave it a singularly weird effect. The 
figure was kneeling near him with one arm 
round his shoulders. He sensed, rather than 
recognized, her identity. 

“Hilary!” he gasped. 

“ Yes, it is Hilary. Can you stand, Jim- 
mie? Here — let me wind this round your 
head.” She twisted something round his 
face so that the intolerable smoke pangs 
were minimized. “ Now, don’t talk. Try 
to stand.” 

Hilary Sloane was a good type of the 
modem athletic girl. She did not believe 
that feminity implied weakness and she had 
need of all her strength now, for Jimmie 
was as weak as a kitten. 

Half supporting, half carrying him, she 
groped her way toward the door. At the 
stairs, he stumbled and only a superhuman 
effort on her part saved them both from 
disaster. Smoke w'as rolling up from be- 
low in thick, oily wreaths, with weird effects, 
as in the far distance little flashes of blue 
and yellow' flame appeared. 

Staggering, choking, gasping, they de- 
scended the stairs, a feat only to be 
achieved with infinite slowness. As they 
neared the ground floor, the heat became 
more intense and the smoke hung more 
closely. Jimmie swayed and would have 
fallen, but for the presence of that slim 
arm against him. 

“ Hold up! Oh, Jimmie, hold up! Only 
a few steps more and we shall be safe.” 

He felt that they were passing into the 
basement and the air grew a trifle clearer. 
She stooped and fumbled on the ground 
until she felt a ring-bolt and flung back a 
trap-door. 

Then came her supreme test. A steep 
ladder led to the depths. It was out of 
the question that they could descend side 


THE BIG STORY. 


429 


by side, as they had down the stairs. It 
was clear that Jimmie could not make the 
trip unaided, and, though he was a com- 
paratively lightly built man, Hilary doubted 
if she was equal to the task of carrying 
him down. 

The dilemma, however, had to be solved. 
There was no time for hesitation. 

“ You must slide down, Jimmie,” she 
urged. “ Understand?” She shook him 
slightly, as if that would make her meaning 
clear. “ You will probably bruise your- 
self, but that cannot be helped. It is bet- 
ter than remaining here.” 

“ I’ll try, Hilary,” he gasped. 

She supported him to the opening, and 
getting a firm grip of his collar, let him 
down till she could bear the strain no longer. 
Then she let go and he slid to a heap at 
the bottom of the ladder. 

Hilary followed, closing the trap-door be- 
hind her. They were in a cellar as dark 
as a pit, but comparatively free from the 
suffocation and heat of lie house itself. 
Silverdale had fainted in good earnest. 

When he came to, feeling very weak and 
sore, they were still in impenetrable dark- 
ness. He felt his own hand clasped in a 
soft warm one and heard the sound of gen- 
tle sobs. Hilary — the girl who had no 

nerves — was crying. She ceased instantly 
as she felt the pressure of her hand re- 
turned. 

“ Are you all right, old boy?” 

“ Fit as a fiddle, dear,” he lied braz- 
enly, though he ached all over and felt as 
weak as a rat. “ What are you crying for?” 

“ I wasn’t crying,” she declared indig- 
nantly. “ At least — Jimmie — I suppose I 
was a bit overdone.” 

He sat up. “ I don’t wonder at that. 
You’ve been through more than most men 
could stand. Where are we?” 

She struck a match and by its glimmer he 
saw that they were in a small, low-pitched, 
bricked tunnel, the damp oozing from the 
walls. 

“ I don’t know exactly,” she admitted. 
“ This is a secret way out, according to 
Eston, but where it leads to, I haven’t the 
faintest idea.” 

Silverdale was a man who possessed won- 
derful powers of recuperation. He felt his 


strength returning to him with every breath 
he took and he remembered with a shudder 
the nightmare horror they had passed 
through. He retained only a shadowy no- 
tion of what had happend since he had lain 
in that garret, waiting for death. 

“ It occurs to me, Hilary,” he said, “ that 
you have saved my life.” 

She smoothed his face with her free 
hand. “ Don’t be silly, Jimmie,” she said. 

“ It’s true,” he insisted. “ I’d be a pretty 
cheap sort of a corpse just now if it hadn’t 
been for you. I’m afraid my legs are a bit 
wobbly yet, so if you don’t mind we’ll wait 
a bit before we begin to explore this pri- 
vate tunnel of Mr. Eston’s. Meanwhile, 
you might tell me how it all happened.” 

She laughed — a mery, musical, happy 
laugh, that echoed strangely among their 
dismal surroundings. “ You got my note?” 
she asked. 

“ The note you left on the house-boat — 
sure!” 

“ And you don’t think that I murdered 
Sir Harold Saxon now?” 

He lifted the hand that was clasped in 
his own*to his lips. “ That’s your answer,” 
he said. “ Now, how did you get away 
from Eston?” 

“ Oh, there was nothing in that. He 
knew a great deal and guessed more after 
you and he met on the stairs. He told us 
— “Nora and myself — that the place was sur- 
rounded and that we had a back way out 
through which he proposed to take us if the 
police tried to forced an entrance. 1 A 
private emergency exit —he described it. I 
asked what he had done about you. He 
laughed — he can be diabolical at times you 
know, Jimmie — and said that he had you 
safely stowed avray in a lumber room. 

“ ‘ He’s a bright lad,’ he said, ‘ and I 
take rather a paternal interest in him. Since 
you won’t marry me, I thought that it 
wouldn’t be a bad plan to elect him to the 
office of bridegroom. What do you 
think?’ ” 

She fell silent and Jimmie, though he 
couldn’t see her face, knew that she was 
blushing. “ Very kind of Mr. Eston,” he 
said drily. “ Go on, Hilary.” 

“ Well, after that, he went away. Of 
course I didn’t know what to think, except 


430 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


that he had some black scheme at the back 
of his mind. Then he returned, told me 
that you had refused pointblank to marry 
me and that he had turned you loose, as 
he phrased it, to 1 stew in your own juice.’ 

“ We were hustled down-stairs and 
through the trap-door down here; I smelled 
the smoke and demanded to know what he 
had done with you. He protested that you 
were quite all right — that he had set you 
loose and that you would be able to take 
care of yourself. 

“ I knew that he was lying, and though 
he had hold of my arm, I tore myself from 
him and dashed back and somehow got 
through the trap-door in front of him. He 
followed me no farther, though I could hear 
him swearing. 

“ The place was full of smoke. He. had 
told me that they used a combination of 
smoke-bombs and petrol. The smoke was 
meant to hold back the police till the place 
got well alight and so prevent them from 
discovering our retreat too soon. I tore 
my skirt off and bound a piece of it around 
my face. So at last I found you.” 

•• I know men who have won the V. C. 
for less,” said Silverdale. “ Now our imme- 
diate problem seems to be where are we 
and how do we get out? Eston seems to 
have wriggled out of his difficulties once 
again. Have you any matches?” 

" 1 have got one left,” said the girl. 

“ And I have none. Well, I should save 
yours in case we want it. Meanwhile, we’ll 
grope our way along and see what hap- 
pens.” 

He pulled himself stiffly to his feet and, 
arm in arm, they began to grope their way 
along the tunnel. 


CHAPTER XXV. 

TRAPPED. 

B IG business in crime, as big business in 
ordinary commercial pursuits, takes ac- 
count of contingencies. Eston, when he 
became proprietor of a gambling hell, took 
account of the risks as well as the profits. 
It was to minimize these risks that he had 
had a tunnel constructed at an outlay 
which many people might have looked upon 


as prohibitive, but which he regarded as an 
insurance. 

Although the possibility that he might 
find a use for it personally may havejseen in 
his mind, it is doubtful if that was a prime 
reason. There are many people who fre- 
quent gambling houses who would hate the 
publicity of a police court. It was their 
convenience rather than his own that Eston 
had in mind when he provided this other 
unobtrusive exit. 

The emergency which had now arisen, 
however, had thrown the question of pre- 
serving the “ good-will ” of his clients into 
the shade. In fact, Eston had flung 
them, as well as the permanent staff 
of the place, into the street, a^ part 
of the policy to occupy the police till he 
was ready. His chief concern was to get 
away whole to carry out his own greater 
plans. 

When Hilary rushed back into the burn- 
ing house he had pursued her to the trap- 
door and then paused, baffled. He had 
nerve on occasions, but he calculated swiftly 
and two things flashed across his mind. 

The likely probability was that the girl 
would be driven back by the flames and 
smoke, in which event he would be waiting 
to deal with her. Alternatively, if she 
would be mad enough to fight her way to 
the top of the house, her chances of return 
were negligible. To follow her was to court 
certain death. Eston prefered to wait. 

A couple of minutes had perhaps elapsed 
when Nora Dring, picking her way by the 
aid of an electric torch, returned. She laid 
a hand lightly on his arm. 

“ She has got away?” she asked. 

He swore fiercely. “ She slipped me. 
She’s gone sheer crazy over the pen-pusher. 
I guess they’re both burned to cinders — 
or will be. It’s no good waiting. Where’s 
Velvet and Jim?” 

“ They didn’t stop.” 

“ No, they wouldn’t,” he sneered. 
“ You’ve got more nerve than either of 
them, my girl. Why did you come back?” 

She slipped her hand through his arm and 
he could feel her trembling. “ We were 
friends — Hilary and I/’ she said. 

He laughed scornfully and quickened his 
pace. “ She was your friend, you mean,” 


THE BIG STORY. 


he corrected. “ I hadn’t noticed that you 
had been playing the Jonathan to her David 
stunt — not to any extent since I’ve known 
you. 

“ Why, girl—” He halted as though 
seized by a sudden inspiration, disengaged 
her arm and held her with his torch blazing 
full on her face — “ if I’m not away out in 
my guess, you’ll not be sorry that she’s 
gone. You little devil — I think you are 
glad!” 

Eston had done cruel things in his fight 
against society and he was brutally reckless 
of everything, even human life, when he 
had an end to achieve. He had left Jimmie 
Silverdale to a painful death without a pang 
of remorse, but there was a light in the 
girl’s green eyes which stirred even in him 
a feeling of revulsion. She was shivering 
beneath the grip of his hand, but there was 
a cold smile on her face. 

“ Perhaps — I’m not so sorry as I might 
have been,” she confessed. “ I liked Hilary 
— she was useful to me in the old days. 
But she became a prig — and I can’t stand 
prigs.” 

He jerked his thumb backward and re- 
garded her cynically. “ So you don’t mind 
much that we’ve left her behind— there. By 
God! I hate to think of it— and you smile! ” 

“ You see, you were in love with her — 
or thought you were,” she countered. “ No, 
I didn’t come back because of Hilary. I 
came because of you.” 

“ Of me?” Eston took no trouble to con- 
ceal his sneering surprise. “ I didn’t know 
you were interested in me to that extent.” 

She sprang forward suddenly and threw 
her arms around his neck. She was kissing 
him hotly, passionately, clinging convul- 
sively to him in an ecstasy of passion. Es- 
ton pushed her brutally away. 

“Ugh!” he gasped contemptuously, 
“ you’re mad! ” 

“ It was you,” she insisted, speaking with 
a fierce intensity as she faced him. “ Why 
have I been helping you all this while, 
blindly, unhesitatingly? If you hadn’t been 
taken up so with Hilary, you would have 
seen. 

“ I’m the woman for you. I’m glad she’s 
gone — glad, glad, glad!” She stamped her 
foot. “ I have helped you, but I tell you 


431 

this — you would never have married her. 
I’d have killed you both first!” 

“ You would, eh?”, he said quietly. “ I’m 
almost inclined to believe you, my dear. 
Now, if you don’t mind, we’ll defer dis- 
cussing the question until some more Suit- 
able time. 

“ Just now, the main idea seems to me to 
•get away from here. You’ll feel better 
when we reach the fresh air.” 

“ Don’t address me as if you were 
speaking to a child,” she snapped. “ I’m a 
woman and I’m not to be played with.” 
Her tone changed and she sank on her 
knees in front of him, gripping his hand 
tightly. “ Oh, my dear, my dear! Say that 
we shall — ” 

Eston cut her short. Even if he had had 
the inclination, he felt it was no time for 
such a scene. Hilary had attracted him; 
but Nora Dring, though she had proved 
useful in the game he was playing, had 
never caused his pulse to move a single beat 
quicker. 

If Hilary Sioane had gone, his use for her 
companion had vanished. He cared noth- 
ing for her sex or her feelings. He pulled 
his hand away and pushed her roughly 
aside. She fell with a little moan, and he 
pressed on, unheeding. 

“ Get out of my way, you Jezebel ! ” 

She picked herself up and followed him 
without a word and the darkness concealed 
her face. Nora Dring, it is probable, would 
have been ready to take many things from 
Eston. The physical violence with which 
he had repulsed her counted nothing; it was 
the contemptuous nonchalance with which 
he brushed her from his path that grated on 
her. 

He was half-a-dozen steps or so in front 
of her when she called after him. “ You 
had better listen to me.” 

“ We can’t hang about,” he retorted, and 
pushed on. The exit from the tunnel was 
almost the exact replica of the entrance, a 
low-pitched cellar from which one left by 
way of a ladder and trap-door. 

It was as he approached the ladder that 
Eston’s pace became slower. Some un- 
canny intuition warned him that all was 
not well, and yet there was no obvious rea- 
son for the supposition. He paused with 


432 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


one foot on the ladder and listened. He 
could hear nothing. 

Indeed, it may have been the extraordi- 
nary quietness of the house above that con- 
firmed his latent suspicion. It was impos- 
sible that this means of retreat could have 
been guessed and yet — and yet! 

He thrust a hand out behind him and 
whispered a warning to the girl. “ H’st!” 

Still the silence hung about them, oppres- 
sive, impenetrable as the darkness itself. 
Then some one sneezed. 

In an instant, Eston was back at the 
mouth of the tunnel, an automatic in his 
hand, the beam from his torch concentrated 
steadily on the trap-door ladder. He 
raised his voice. “ Is that you, Jim?” and 
the trap-door swung back. 

“ Come right on, guv’nor,” said a husky 
voice. “ It’s all quiet.” 

The hand that held the electric torch 
shook a little. Eston ’s senses were too 
keyed up for him to make a mistake. At 
another moment he might have taken that 
voice for Jim’s — but not now. 

He knew that, somehow, in spite of all his 
foresight, he had been outwitted. He was 
trapped. 

The realization of all it might mean swept 
across him in a flood. Not only had he 
lost the game — the big game for millions 
that he had been playing — but he had over- 
reached himself. 

Whatever their suspicions in the Saxon 
business, they could prove little — certainly 
hot, he told himself, that he had had any 
finger in the event that led to the murder of 
that eminent munitioner. 

This, however, was different. There was 
•Jimmie Silverdale, for instance. He was 
known to be in the gambling house when it 
had been fired, and there would be remains. 

No legal adroitness, no slice of luck could 
possibly save him from conviction on that 
charge of murder, once he fell into the 
hands of the police. He had blundered, ex- 
ecrably, horribly. He had played and lost. 

Non. Dring crept close to him. “ What 
is it?” she whispered. 

He kept his eyes steadily on the shaft of 
light that flickered on the ladder and would 
outline the first figure to descend. “ It’s the 
gentlemen from Scotland Yard, if I don’t 


miss my guess,” he said. “ We’re in for it, 
my dear.” 

She glanced apprehensively toward the 
trap-door. Then before he could guess her 
purpose, she had raised her voice. “ Is Mr. 
Garfield there? It’s Nora Dring speak- 
ing.” 

“ Keep quiet, you! ” ordered Eston sharp- 
ly. Then he shrugged his shoulders. The 
situation, from his point of view, was as 
bad as it could be. There was nothing the 
girl could do that would worsen it. He 
raised his voice. 

“ Don’t trouble to answer, Garfield. 
You’re a darned poor ninnie, and I’ve had 
you taped this last minute. You’ll get 
cramp if you stick outside that trap-door 
waiting for me to come up. You’ve got to 
come and fetch me.” 

Something white appeared in the opening 
of the trap-door. The pressure of Eston’s 
finger tightened and the explosion of the au- 
tomatic in the confined space was deafening. 
Nora Dring gave a half-suppressed scream 
and the white face in the opening disap- 
peared. 

“ Not so bad,” came the cool voice of 
the chief detective inspector. “ You’ve 
chipped a bit out of my ear, Eston. I’ll 
forgive you that if you’ll be the reasonable 
man I know you to be and come up with- 
out making a fool of yourself.” 

Eston hesitated. His arm curved slowly 
till the muzzle of the pistol was resting 
against his temple. His finger curled slowly 
round the trigger. That would be the 
quickest way. It was all just the same in 
the end. Why should he endure the long, 
drawn-out formalities and delays of the law 
when — 

The pressure of his finger relaxed and the 
weapon dropped to his side. After all, he 
was not taken yet. He would not take that 
way out until the last minute. There was 
no telling what might happen, desperate 
though the affair seemed. 

“ I hate to disappoint you, Garfield,” he 
said sardonically. “ You haven’t got your 
hooks on me yet, but if you want to take 
tea with me, come along. We will be a 
merry party. You can sit on that trap-door 
till it’s red-hot, and you can’t find me walk- 
ing into your arms.” 


OVER THE WIRE. 


433 

) 

He heard the striking of a match as Gar- “ If Miss Dring likes to come up, we’ll 
field iit his pipe. The inspector had learned make her welcome. Is Miss Sloane there?” 
more than he needed to know when he had “ She is not,” answered Eston, and corn- 
placed his head inside the trap-door. He posed himself for his vigil, 
was disposed to take things comfortably. “ Well, what does Miss Dring say?” 

“ That’s all right, then,” he said amiably. Nora Dring, her face white, her knees 
“ We’ve got all the time there is and we’re trembling, collapsed in a heap at Eston’s 
ready to wait. You’d find yourself much feet. 

more comfortable in our hands — but suit “ I’ll stay with Mr. Eston,” she declared 
yourself. shakily. 

TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT WEEK. Don’t forget this magazine is issued weekly, and 
that you will get the conclusion of this story without waiting a month. 



S NOW and ice on that mountain. Noth- fast, too, but accurate, staccato, with a 
ing but snow. The wind drove it with smooth flow as if a machine had hold of the 
a howl against the windows, where it key Dots and dashes were part of him, 
stuck on the warm panes. Sometimes I for, after years of it, he could express him- 
couid just make out the blur of the sema- self better that way. 
phore lights and sometimes I couldn’t. All Sort of feeling for the language, I sup- 
day the blizzard had dumped its swirling pose. I’ve seen the same gift since, but 
load about us, and now, when night closed never to the extent Ben possessed it. Why, 
down, the storm took the tower in its teeth, he could come mighty close to telling the 
shaking it like you’ve seen a dog shake a color of your eyes over a telegraph-wire, 
rat. He and I had worked tower BB-17 on 

Oh, we were warm and cozy enough with the Mountain Division for three years, and 
our stove red hot. Which was more than during that time I never saw him flurried. 
Donaldson, the agent at Hastings, could Once a freight, running extra, got by us — 
say. His wire talk was rotten, chattery, dispatcher tangled up his train-sheet. Forty 
and he told us he’d run out of coal. Looked minutes later a relay came into stop her jor 
like he’d frereze to death, according to him. she’d meet 87 on the big grade. 

But Big Ben prophesied grimly that Don- It takes just forty minutes to run from 
aldson could take care of himself, so we our tower to Hastings, further down the 
might as well save our worries. line. Hastings is the last station with a 

I don’t suppose you ever heard of Big siding before the grade. In other words, 
Ben, but that is your loss. ’Every soul on the freight ought to have been getting her 
the Mountain Division knew him. His 0 . K. from Hastings right then. 

Morse snapped out like a track torpedo, Was Ben excited? Not one little bit. 

8 A-S 


434 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


Donaldson caught his first call. Clear as a 
bell it was. And Donaldson had time to 
flag the freight. 

But the particular night I’m speaking of, 
my side partner appeared a bit uneasy, 
which was enough to set my think-tank 
working. He’d drop down alongside the 
key for a moment; then he’d wander over 
to the windows, trying to pierce the blizzard. 

He was a big man with a hearty laugh 
and a mouth full of teeth and a whiskered 
chin full of determination. His red hair, 
as brilliant as the glow in his corn-cob pipe, 
usually stood on end. But his eyes were 
gray and pleasant; that is, generally they 
were. Yet I’ve noticed ’em hard as rocks, 
drilling into you with a gleam in ’em like 
you see jumping across a spark-gap. Right 
now they were anxious. 

Perhaps that wasn’t so strange, either, for 
all day long, from the length of the division, 
had come bunches of trouble. A snow- 
shed out here; a freight ditched there; hell 
to pay everywhere. 

Wires were down, too. Not a word could 
we get below Hastings or north of the junc- 
tion. Toward night every siding was over- 
flowing with dead-headed rolling stock. 
You see, the big grade — it’s four and a half 
per cent in places — handicaps us because 
even our best oil-burners won’t haul much 
tonnage on it in a blizzard. They can’t 
make steam. 

And this particular frolic of the elements 
promised to beat anything that had struck 
us in twenty years. At 10 p.m. the chief 
dispatcher ordered the line cleared for the 
night, barring No. 77 southbound, which 
was to make her run as usual. I reckon 
you’ve heard of that train — the Cumberland 
Limited, all steel and solid Pullman? She 
was to follow a snow-plow, and headquar- 
ters gossip filtering to us hinted she might 
find the blizzard a bit of a teaser. 

Suddenly Big Ben turned on me. “ Jim,” 
said he, “ I don’t like it. What’s the old 
man thinking of to let 77 through? Have 
you heard what she’s carrying to-night?” 

I allowed I hadn’t. 

“ Well, there’s something like one hun- 
dred thousand in gold in her express-car. 
Government consignment. I got it straight. 
What a chance for a hold-up! Remember 


that cut below Hastings?” He shook his 
massive head dubiously. “ It’s been done 
before.” 

As if to emphasize his words, the storm 
swooped down with renewed energy until 
the tower swayed like a lighthouse. Great 
guns! how the wind shrieked at us. How 
the snow thudded against the windows. 
And when you hear snow, you know there’s 
a double-headed gale behind it. 

About that time our call came over the 
wire: “ N-H, N-H, N-H.” 

As Ben jumped in, I put down my paper 
to listen. I find it’s a good thing to pay 
pretty strict attention to anything on a 
night like that. It keeps you from seeing 
shadows' that aren’t there, and hearing 
sounds which your common sense tells you 
must be the wind. 

Presently came the professional dot and 
dash of Donaldson down at Hastings. Now 
Donaldson, next to Big Ben, was a star 
operator, and the two of ’em could talk 
better and with more satisfaction over a 
stretch of singing wire than if they were 
sitting together in a parlor. 

Even I knew Donaldson’s style, although 
I wasn’t more than middling expert. There 
were tricks in his stuff such as shortening 
his o’s, but his Morse ran mighty smooth. 
I read off the message to myself. 

“ Freezing cold down here, Ben. Lonely, 
too. Damn lonely. What do 'you get on 
77 ?” 

The big man at the table cut in: “ Brace 
up; 77 on time. Nothing to bother her 
to-night except the storm. All freight dead- 
headed.” 

That seemed to satisfy Donaldson, for 
there was a long silence broken only by the 
whine of the wind and the thud, thud of 
driven snow. I had just picked up the 
paper again when “ N-H, N-H, N-H,” 
snapped at us. 

The crispness of dots and dashes sug- 
gested excitement. Ben acknowledged de- 
liberately, but when he closed the wire I 
saw a narrowing of his eyes. 

Donaldson was in a hurry. “ Going to 
quit to-morrow,” he began. “ Can’t stand 
this joint. Say, there’s two of you up there. 
You’re lucky. Old man will have to come 
across with an assistant or I quit. Do you 


OVER THE WIRE. 


know you’re the nearest white man to me? 
Just me alone here. No night for a man to 
be alone. Hold on, I think I hear some- 
body in the waiting-room. Maybe I’ll have 
company.” x / 

But he opened up again the next mo- 
ment with : “ Good Lord, must be going off 
my nut. Nobody in the waiting-room. It’s 
the wind. I tell you this place is like the 
north pole. If I could only hear a fire 
crackling. Say, there it goes again. No, 
I’m way off; that’s a fact. I’ll have to look 
around. Do you notice anything funny in 
the wind? I seem to. Why the devil didn’t 
they put shades on these windows? What’s 
the matter with me anyhow?” 

Ben went back at him, calm as a sum- 
mer’s day. “ Hold on, old man; take some 
whisky. It’s your nerves. Get a grip on 
yourself.” 

“ All right,” answered Donaldson, his 
wire-talk becoming calmer. “ Yes, I’ll take 
the whisky. Let me know about 77.” 

That was all for a while, but Ben eyed 
me through the fumes of his pipe. “ I don’t 
like it,” he muttered. “ Not a bit. Never 
knew Donaldson to wildcat before. W T onder 
if there is anything wrong?” 

I didn’t say what was on my mind, for 
the shriek of the storm interrupted. So we 
just sat still and looked at each other and 
wondered what it would be like if either of 
us weren’t there. 

Somehow I couldn’t get rid of the picture 
of Hastings station — a little frame building 
backed up against a cliff, with a siding cut- 
ting in behind it and the banked curve of 
the main line stretching away before it. A 
few farmers used the station, but a water- 
tank was its real excuse for existence. 

I could see how the snow had half-buried 
it, and how Donaldson, veteran that he was, 
might hear strange sounds in the gale. I 
could see a great many things right then, 
but the sight wasn’t pleasant. 

Snow, snow and more snow, and icy rails 
and low, hurrying clouds you felt were 
brushing against the tower. “ Listen ! ” I 
snapped. 

Ben jumped to his feet. “ This won’t do. 
Here, you quit listening or you’ll be as bad 
as Donaldson.” Then he came over to me. 
“ I guess it’s just as well there’re two of us,” 


435 

he said very quietly. “ Try the junction for 
a report on 77.” 

I took the key with a sense of awe — only 
a couple of slim wires between us and the 
world, and a thousand chances for the 
storm to tear ’em down. But if we felt it, 
what about Donaldson? What about Don- 
aldson, anyway? 

The junction answered after a bit, though 
there was no life in the sending. “ McFlin,” 
nodded Ben. “ I know his style. Ask him 
whether the orders for 77 stand.” ' 

I did. 

“ Sure,” clicked McFlin; “77 on time. 
Pass her through. Rotten night, isn’t it? 
They got a plow leading the limited like a 
blind baby. So-long.” 

That was at eleven two. Twenty minutes 
later Donaldson started after us again, but 
it was a chattering, wild Donaldson ; a new 
Donaldson who tumbled his letters over 
each other. , 

“ N-H, N-H, N-H,” he stuttered, even 
after l had opened the wire. “ N-H, N-H.” 
1 sent him a string of Rs a mile long 
before he acknowledged. Then: 

“ What’s the matter with you up there?” 
he clicked. “ Gone to sleep? But you 
can’t sleep now; you’ve got to talk to me 
or I’ll be ready for the queer house. Some- 
thing is walking up and down outside my 
window. I’ve seen it twice. It can’t be a 
man, and animals don’t prowl about in a 
storm like this. Listen to that wind. I 
tell you it’s walking around the station. 
What am I saying? Do you believe in 
ghosts? It was in the waiting-room a while 
back, but it got out before I had a shot at 
it. What would you do if you were down 
here alone, snowed in like .a damned 
Eskimo? What would you do if it started 
to walk — ” 

Big Ben strode across the room. “ Give 
me the key,” he thundered. His eyes were 
hard gray now, like rock, with little points 
of fire in them, and it seemed he would 
smash the instrument as he crashed down 
with Donaldson’s call. 

“ Stop that! ” went the dots and dashes, 
clear cut, fast, but Lordy, they had a punch 
behind ’em. “ Pull yourself together. Take 
some more whisky. Wake up. Remember 
you’re an operator. You’ve got to handle 


436 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


the Limited to-night. No more of that. You 
know damn well nothing is walking around 
down there except you. Rub some snow in 
your face. Wake up, I say. I’ll talk to 
you as much as you like, but no more spook 
stuff.” 

“ You’re right,” came the slower re- 
sponse. “ I won’t bother you any more. 
Nevertheless, it’s walking around here. 
Maybe I’ll get a shot at it. I’ll let you 
know if I do.” 

That was all, and Ben and I looked across 
the table into each other’s eyes. “ Well?” I 
questioned. 

He shook himself as if trying to get rid 
of something clinging. “ Oh, Donaldson is 
getting old,” he muttered. “ It’s lonely 
down there, and his fire’s out. That’s what 
I make of it. 

“ When the wind howls, and you’re on a 
night shift in a God-forsaken spot like 
Hastings, you’re mighty apt to hear and 
see a little more ’an you’ve any business to.” 

The next word that came flashing over 
the wire left no doubt in our minds. Either 
Donaldson was clean crazy or — well, he 
must be crazy! 

“ Ever see a face half black and half 
white?” stuttered our instrument. “ I had 
a shot at it. It’s still walking.” 

Ben waited an instant then sent “ J-J,” 
Donaldson’s call, steady for three minutes. 
But he might as well have opened the win- 
dow and yelled out into the storm. The 
wire was either dead or Hastings wouldn’t 
answer. 

Presently McFlin at the junction got 
busy. “ Just O. K.’d 77.” he said. “ Devil- 
ish night. The Limited looked like a hunk 
of the mountain on wheels. Bet the snow 
on the car-roofs gets scraped off on the top 
of the tunnels. Happy dreams.” 

But we weren’t to indulge in any happy 
dreams for some time to come. Hardly 
had McFlin shut up when “ N-H, N-H, 
N-H ” called Ben back. “ Lord,” he 
groaned, “ hear that style? It’s Donaldson, 
but what’s happened to him? I hate to 
listen to it.” 

Dull, lifeless, flat, came the dots and 
dashes from Hastings. No use,” clicked 
Donaldson. “ This hide-and-seek is beyond 
me. Its face is half black and half white, 


and bullets don’t worry it. I’m a gone duck. 
Never mind me. Anyhow, hell is warm 
and not as lonesome as this. I’m freezing, 
and that’s no ghost story.” 

“ For God’s sake,” Ben’s reply flew forth, 
“ can that stuff! Pull yourself together, old 
man. Forget the face or whatever it is; 
77’s on time. Hold hard.” 

“ Sure,” agreed Donaldson wearily, “ I’ll 
handle the Limited. How’s the storm up 
there?” 

“ Quitting,” lied Ben, and went to the 
window. 

Then followed an hour of silence, with 
only the shriek , of the wind and the thud 
of snow. I reckon the two of us smoked 
considerable tobacco during that hour, and 
we played a few games of checkers, too, but 
our minds wandered. 

When at last we heard the shrill squeal 
of 77’s whistle above the noise of the bliz- 
zard, we felt happy. Just to know there 
■were other people near us — believe me, that 
was some relief! 

Far off up the line we could make out 
the headlight of the Limited like a blinking, 
misty moon creeping toward us. Ben 
glanced at his semaphore levers. Down 
she bore on us, the din of her drivers muf- 
fled by snow. 

There was the thunder of moving tons, 
a blast of cinders against the tower win- 
dows, and a snaky line of black as the Pull- 
mans flashed past under their white-caps. 
We watched her red tail-lights around the 
curve. 

“ J-J, J-J, J-J,” clicked Ben, back at the 
table. And directly Hastings answered in 
the same lifeless style. 

“ Limited just passed O. K.,” went 
on my side partner. “ How are you 
feeling?” 

Donaldson’s wire-talk was worse than 
ever. “ Fine,” he stuttered. “ Maybe I 
can hold out. The damn thing’s always 
near me. It’s cold here. I’ve got my feet 
on the stove. Say, this stove is a joke. 
It’s so empty it’s going to cave in pretty 
soon. Wait a minute, let me try another 
shot.” 

Nothing more. Not another word, though 
we took turns at the key. And when Ben 
relighted his pipe I didn’t like the look on 


OVER THE WIRE. 


437 


his face. “ Jim,” he began, “ there’s things 
in this world none of us can understand. 
I reckon after all that maybe, I misjudged 
Donaldson; perhaps he’s up against one of 
’em.” 

“ Quit!” I bellowed. “ You watch your- 
self or you’ll be splitting a switch, too. As 
you said a while back, Donaldson’s nervous 
and cold. That’s what’s the matter with 
him; nothing else.” 

Ben, mumbling a reply, turned again to 
the window. If possible the storm was 
worse. 

.1 don’t exactly remember how it hap- 
pened; I must have dozed off about then, 
being pretty tuckered out. Anyhow, the 
first thing I knew Ben was shaking the life 
out of me. I’ll never forget the expression 
of his face as I opened my eyes. 

His eyes were all red, his hands were 
working, his jaw set. “ Wake up, Jin*,” he 
hissed. “ I heard it, too. 

“ No,” he went on as I instinctively 
looked toward the windows. “ Not there; 
over the wire. Listen!” 

I listened, but for a long time nothing 
broke the vibrating stillness of the tower. 
And I got to thinking it was another case 
of nerves. Then, Father above us! may 
I never again hear such a sound! 

Our instrument started to whisper. You 
laugh, do you? But if you’d teen there 
you wouldn’t have laughed. We went over 
to the table on tiptoe; hardly daring to 
breathe. The little steel bar trembled; 
moved down; snapped back, barely closing 
the contact. 

It was like a dying man framing words 
he couldn’t utter. I followed in my mind 
the course of the single, drumming wire over 
the trestles, through the ravines, under the 
mountains. What manner of thing was 
pressing the key at the other end? 

Ben dropped forward with an oath and 
fallowed his elbows on the table as if his 
nearness might aid him. “Listen!” he 
begged. “ Oh, Jim, listen!” 

Presently the instrument quivered again, 
but this time the impulse was stronger. 
Horribly flaccid, monotonously regular, like 
the labored effort of an amateur, came the 
message which shall forever sear my mem- 
ory with unspeakable horror. 


“ God — in — heaven — help me. I — can’t 
— stand— this. They — chained — cross — ties 
* — to — the— rails. They — will— ditch — the 
— Limited. I’m — done — for. Hell — is — ■ 

nearer — now. Help. Dear — God— help — 
me — ” 

That was all. Ben tore at the key, send- 
ing out into the night, “ J-J, J-J, J-j,” Uutil 
my head swam. 

But no response came; not the least 
flutter. Only agonizing, storm shrieking 
silence. 

Then he gave it up and staggered to his 
feet. His face was as gray as slate. “ Jim,” 
he gasped, “Donaldson is dead! I know 
it. It was a dying man who sent that mes- 
sage.” 

I grabbed him by the shoulders. “ You 
fool!” I yelled. “He can’t be dead — he 
sent it. Don’t you understand? They’re 
going to wreck the Limited. Donaldson 
was telling us. He may be wounded. We’ve 
got to get to him.” 

Slowly, as if his body was awakening 
from sleep, the muscles in his shoulders 
under my band tightened. “ Sure, I get 
you,” he whispered. And before I knew 
what he was doing, he shook me off, rushing 
blindly for the stairs. “ Come on, Jim. For 
God’s sake, burry! ” he called. “ Bring my 
gun and some torpedoes. It’s only five 
miles by the road; thirty down the moun- 
tain by the track. Let’s try the ear — ” 

I stopped long enough to be sure the re- 
volver we kept in a drawer was loaded, 
stuffed some torpedoes in my pocket, and 
followed him. Out into the gale be sped 
to where he kept his little second-hand, 
mud-spattered gas-wagon. I had always 
kidded him about it, laughed at it; but 
now I prayed. 

Yes, funny when you think of it, me pray- 
ing! But 1 did — prayed it would run; 
prayed there was gas and oil in it. 

Once away from the lee of the building, 
the storm wrapped around us, flinging the 
snow in our faces, making us gasp for 
breath. We were talcing desperate chances 
and breaking all rales — this leaving a tower 
vacant, but what could we do? What in 
God’s name could we do? 

When I caught up with Ben he was 
cranking the engine desperately. I propped 


438 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


the shanty door open, though the blast of 
wind threatened to fairly tear it from its 
hinges. 

Fortunately the radiator of the car had 
antifreezing mixture in it. After an agoniz- 
ing moment, the engine gave a couple of 
disgusted coughs and died. But Ben went 
right on. He spun that thing till I was 
dizzy as I sat with my hand on the throttle, 
feeding it raw gas. 

When there seemed no chance left, and 
I could see the Limited a burning, blackened 
mass, and hear the cries of the injured, the 
engine started, missing like thunder, to be 
sure. Ben leaped in beside me and let in his 
clutch. 

Once beyond the shanty our headlights 
ended in a whirling bank of snow, and the 
cold stabbed like a driven nail. But the 
engine was running better now. 

How my side partner found the road, or 
how he kept that rickety piece of junk from 
chucking us down a ravine I’ll never know. 
But he did. Yes, by the grace of the Lord, 
he did. 

Pitching like a ship in a storm, sinking 
now and then up to our hubs, we jounced 
on down that mountain. What everlasting 
miles of emptiness! What biting pain as 
our ears and hands and noses turned red, 
then white. 

Once we heard the shriek of the Limited 
below us on the grade; once we saw the 
flash of her furnace door. Seconds turned 
into minutes; minutes into hours. Would 
we be in time? I set my teeth and prayed 
some more. 

Ah, we had hit the last stretch and 
through the smother we could see the sema- 
phore lights of Hastings station. Also the 
light in the building itself. Our car snorted 
and groaned as Ben fed it the gas, skidding 
to the edge of a precipice or flinging us half 
out of our seats, but we never thought of 
that. 

And now came the wail of the Limited’s 
whistle, this time above us. Her headlight 
flickered across the cut, touching the station 
with uncertain fingers. The semaphore was 
set green. 

I shivered, but not from cold. If only we 
had half a chance, but the everlasting snow 
— how it clung to our wheels! And under 


it our tire-chains spun gratingly in red clay 
which flecked the white of the road like 
blood. 

Bearing down on Hastings station, gath- 
ering speed with each pound of her drivers, 
thundered the Limited. We were playing 
the passage of a minute against a pile of 
cross-ties— and the forfeit was death! 

Now we reached the nearest point to the 
right-of-way, and as we jerked to a halt, a 
black figure appeared on the depot platform 
against the light. I saw the flash of a gun 
and heard a bullet sing past. 

But Ben paid no heed. Throwing himself 
from the car, he floundered over to the 
track. I ran toward the station, firing as I 
went. Once I looked back. Ben was kneel- 
ing down, adjusting torpedoes under the 
very pilot of the plow. 

Now there isn’t any use of my explaining 
how the Limited roared by, her engineer 
satisfied with the green of the semaphore; 
nor how he gave her the air when the tor- 
pedoes warned him. 

Nor, for that matter, of the futile pursuit 
of the bandits who had intended to ditch 
her. All that came out* in the morning 
paper. If I remember, there was even a 
picture of the pile of cross-ties chained to 
the track. 

The fact that will interest you is what 
we discovered in Hastings station. Without 
bothering to explain to 77’s wondering crew, 
we dashed into the waiting-room and threw 
open the door of the ticket office. 

At the table sat Donaldson. He was stiff 
and rigid, and from an ugly blotched hole 
in his neck there crept a frozen stream of 
blood. His right hand still rested on the 
telegraph-key. 

“ Good God!” I muttered. “Dead! He 
never moved after he was shot.” 

And then, somehow feeling Ben’s eyes 
upon me, I looked at him. His smile was 
ghastly. 

“ Sure?” he said. “ I told you so back in 
the tower. He never moved after he was 
shot? TJien what about that message? 
How did he know about the crosS-ties?” 

“ Shut up!” I shrieked. “ Here, let’s get 
him out of this. We’ll go down on 77. I’m 
through!” 



Author ol “ raulkner's Folly,” "The Curved Blades," etc. 


CHAPTER XXIX. 
fibsy’s busy day. 

“ ¥ T’S this way, F. Stone,” said Fibsy 
I earnestly, “ the crooks of the situa- 
* tion— ” 

“ The what?” 

The crooks — that’s what they call it — ” 
“ Oh, the crux.” Stone did not laugh. 
“Yes, sir — if that’s how you pronounce 
it. Guess I’ll stick to plain English. Well, 
to my way of thinkin’, the little joker in the 
case is that there raspberry jam.” 

“ Thought you were going to talk plain 
English. You’re cryptic, my son.” 

“ All right — here goes. That jam busi- 
ness is straight goods. The old lady says 
she tasted jam — and she did taste jam. 
And, that sweet, pleasant, innercent rasp- 
berry jam will yet send the moiderer of Mr. 
Embury to the electric chair!” 

“ I think myself there’s something to be 
looked into, there, but how are you going 
about it?” 

“ Dunno yet — but here’s another thing, 
Mr. Stone, that I ain’t had time to tell you 
yet, that — ” 

“ Suppose you begin at the beginning 
and tell me your story in order.” 

“ Supposin’ I do! ” Fibsy thought a mo- 
ment before he began. It was the morning 
after the two had dined at the Embury 
home, and they were breakfasting together 
in Stone’s hotel apartment. 

“ Well, Mr. Stone, as you know, I left 
Mrs. Embury’s last night d’reckly after Mr. 


Hendricks took his dee-parture. As I 
s’pected, there was trouble a waitin’ for 
him. Just outside the street doorway, that 
Hanlon chap was standing and he met up 
with Mr. Hendricks — much to the dismay 
of the latter!” 

“ Your English is fine this morning — go 

ahead.” 

“ Well — Hanlon fell into step like with 
Mr. Hendricks, and they walked along, 
Hanlon doing the talking. I didn’t dare 
get close enough to overhear them, for 
they’re both live wires, and I don’t fool 
either of ’em into thinking meself a ninky- 
poop! 

“ So I trailed, but well outa sight — and, 
hold on, Mr. Stone, while I tell you this. 
The fake mejum that Miss Ames went to 
see yesterday afternoon, was none other 
than friend Hanlon himself!” 

“ What? Fibs, are you sure?” 

“ Sure as shootin’! I spotted him the 
minute he came up to Mrs. Embury's. I 
didn’t reckernize him at first, but I did 
later. You know, Mr. Stone, I saw him do 
stunts for newspapers in two towns, and I 
wonder I didn’t tumble to him in the 
spook-shop. 

“ But I didn’t — I dessay because when I 
saw him doing his mind-readin’ tricks out- 
doors, he was blindfolded, which some con- 
cealed his natural scenery.” 

“ Is he mixed up in the Embury case?” 
“ He’s mixed up with Mr. Hendricks in 
some way, and he learned from Miss Ames 
that Hendricks was to be among those pres- 


Thka story began in the All-Story Weekly for January 3. 

439 


440 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


ent, so he made up foolish excuses and be- 
took himself to the vicinity of said Hen- 
dricks.” 

“ Why?” 

“ Wanted to converse with him, and 
couldn’t get hold of him otherwise. Hen- 
dricks, it would seem, didn’t hanker for 
said conversation.” 

“ I remember Hanlon asked Mr. Hen- 
dricks if he were going his way, and Hen- 
dricks said he was going to spend the eve- 
ning where he was.” 

“ Egg-zackly. And did. But all the 
same, Hanlon waited. And a wait of an 
hour and a half registers patience and per- 
severance — to my mind.” 

“ Right you are! And you trailed the 
pair?” 

“ Did I ! ” Fibsy fell back in his chair, 
as if exhausted. “ I followed them to Mr. 
Hendricks’s home, they chatterin’ glibly all 
the way — and then after a few minutes’ 
further remarks on the door-step, Hen- 
dricks, he went in — and Hanlon — You 
know Mr, Stone, Hanlon’s nobody’s fool, 
and he knew I was follerin’ him as well as 
he knew his name! 

“ I don’t know how he knew it — for I 
was most careful to keep outa sight but all 
the same, he did know it — and what do 
you think he did? He led me a chase of 
miles — and miles — and miles! That’s what 
he did!” 

“ On purpose!” 

“ On purpose! Laughin’ in his sleeve! 
I was game, I trotted along — but bullive 
me! I was mad! And the galoot was so 
slick about it! Why, he walked up Broad- 
way first — as if he had a business appoint- 
ment in a desprit hurry. Then, having 
reached Hundred an’ Twenty-Fi’th Street, 
he pauses a minute — to be sure I’m trailin’, 
the vilyun! And then, he swings east, and 
across-town, and turns south again — oh, 
well, Mr. Stone, he simpully makes me 
foller him till I’m that dog-tired, I near 
drops in my tracks. 

“ And, to top the heap, he leads me 
straight to this hotel, where we’re stayin' — 
yes, sir! Right here, and makin’ a sharp 
turn, he says: “ Good night!” pleasantlike, 
and scoots off! “ Can you beat it!” 

“ Poor old Fibs, that was an experience! 


Looks like the Hanlon person is one to be 
reckoned with. But it doesn’t prove him 
mixed up in the murder mystery in any 
way.” 

“ No, sir, it don’t. It’s only made me 
sore on him — and sore on my own account, 
too!” Fibsy grinned ruefully. “ Me feet’s 
that blistered— and I’m lame all over!” 

“ Poor boy! You see, he’s a sprinter 
from ’way back. His stunts on that news- 
paper work prove he can take long walks 
without turning a hair.” 

“ Yes, but it’s croolty to animiles to drag 
a young feller like me along too. I’ve got 
his number! Remember, Mr. Stone, he 
played Spook Catcher to Miss Ames. That 
means something, sir.” 

“ It does, indeed. This is a great old 
case, Fibsy. Are you getting a line on it?” 
“ I think so, sir,” and the lad looked very 
earnest. “ Are you?” 

“ A strange one. But, yes, a line. To- 
day, Fibs, I want you to interview that 
Mrs. Desternay. You can do — can do it 
better than I. Jolly her along, and find out 
if she’s friend or foe of Mrs. Embury.” 

“ Yes, sir. An’ kin I do a little sleuthin’ 
on my own?” 

“ What sort?” 

“ Legitermit — I do assure you, sir.” 
When Fibsy assumed this deeply earnest 
air, Stone knew some clever dodge was 
in his mind, and he found it usually turned 
out well, so he said: “ Go ahead, my boy: 
I trust you.” 

“ Thank yer.” And Fibsy devoted him- 
self to the remainder of his breakfast, 
while Stone read the morning paper. 

An hour later Terence McGuire pre- 
sented himself at the Embury home and 
asked for Miss Ames. 

“ Good morning, ma’am,” he said, as he 
smiled brightly at her. “ Howja like to 
join me in a bit of investergation that ’ll 
proberly end up in a s’lution of the mys- 
tery?” 

“I’d like it first-rate,” replied Miss 
Ames with enthusiasm. “ When do we 
begin?” 

“Immejitly. Where’s Mis’ Embury?” 
“ In her room.” 

“ No use a disturbin’ her, but I wants 


RASPBERRY JAM, 


441 


see the jersey — the gymnasium jersey that 
your ghost wore.” 

Aunt Abby looked disappointed. She 
had hoped for something more exciting. 

But she said: “ I’ll get it,” and went at 
once to Sanford Embury’s room. 

“ Thank you,” said Fibsy, as he took it. 
But his eager scrutiny failed to disclose any 
trace of jam on its sleeves. 

“ Which arm did you bite?” he asked 
briefly. 

“ I didn’t really bite at all,” Miss Ames 
returned. “ I sort of made a snap at him’ — • 
it was more a nervous gesture than an in- 
telligent action. And I just caught a bit 
of the worsted sleeve between my lips for 
an instant — it was, let me see — it must 
have been the left arm — ” 

“ Well, we’ll examine both sleeves — and 
I regret to state, ma’am, there’s no sign of 
sticky stuff. This is a fine specimen of a 
jersey — I never saw a handsomer one — but 
there’s no stain on it, and never has been.” 
“ Nor has it ever been cleaned with gaso- 
line,” mused Miss Ames, “ and yet, Mc- 
Guire, nothing, to my dying day, can ever 
convince me that I am mistaken on those 
two subjects. I’m just as sure as I can be.” 
“ I’m sure, too. Listen here, Miss Ames. 
There’s a great little old revelation due in 
about a day or so, and I wish you’d lay 
low. Will you?” 

“ What do you mean?” 

“ Why, don’t do or say much about the 
affair. Let it simmer. I’m on the war- 
path, and so’s Mr. Stone, and we’re cornin’ 
out on top, if we don’t have no drawbacks. 
So, don’t trot round to clarviants, or harp 
on that there ‘ vision ’ of yours, will you?” 
“ My boy, I’m only too glad to keep 
away from the subject. I’m worried to 
death with it all. And if I can’t do any 
good by my efforts, I’ll willingly ‘ lay low,’ 
as you ask.” 

“ All right, ma’am. Now, I’m off, and 
I’ll be back here when I come again. So- 
long.” 

Fibsy went down in the service elevator 
and forthwith proceeded to interview the 
rubbish man of the house, and some other 
functionaries. 

By dint of much prodding of memory, 
assisted by judicious silver offerings, he 


finally learned that there was an apartment 
occupied by a couple, with four children, 
who, it appeared, consumed large quanti- 
ties of jam, of all flavors. At least, their 
rubbish was bristling with empty jam-pots, 
and the deduction was logical. 

Seemingly unimpressed, Fibsy declared 
it was pickle-fiends he was searching for, 
and departed, outwardly crestfallen, but 
inwardly elated. Going out of doors, he 
walked to the comer of Park Avenue, and 
turned into the side street. 

Crossing that street to get a better view, 
he looked up the side of the big apartment- 
house, and his gaze paused at the window 
in the tenth story which was in Miss Ames’s 
sleeping-room. Two floors below this was 
the apartment of the family who were re- 
puted jam eaters. 

Fibsy looked intently at all the windows. 
The one next Miss Ames’s was, he knew, in 
the Embury’s pantry. Hence, the one two 
stories below was in the Patterson’s pantry 
— the Pattersons being the aforesaid family. 

And to the boy’s astonished and de- 
lighted eyes, there on the pantry window- 
sill sat what was unmistakably a jam-jar! 

CHAPTER XXX. 

AN INTERVIEW WITH MRS. DESTERNAY. 

S O far, so good. But what did it mean? 
Fibsy had learned that Mr. Patterson 
was a member of the Metropolitan 
Athletic Club and was greatly interested in 
its presidential election — which election, 
owing to the death of one of the candidates, 
had been indefinitely postponed. 

But further investigation of Mr. Patter- 
son was too serious a matter for the boy to 
undertake. It must be referred to Fleming 
Stone. 

So Fibsy glued his eyes once more to that 
fascinating jam-jar up on the eighth story 
window-sill, and slowly walked away. 

Under his breath he was singing: “ Raz 
Berry Jam! Raz Berry Jam!” to the tune 
of a certain march from “ Lohengrin,” 
which somehow represented to his idea the 
high note of triumph. 

He proceeded along the cross street, and 
at Fifth Avenue he entered a bus. 


442 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


His next errand was at the home of Fifi 
Desternay. 

By some ingenious method of wheedling, 
he persuaded the doorman to acquaint the 
lady with the fact of his presence, and 
when she came into the room yvhere he 
awaited her, he banked on his nerve to in- 
duce her to grant him an interview. 

“ You know me,” he said with his most 
ingratiating smile, and he even went so far 
as to take her beringed little hand in his 
own boyish paw. 

“ I do not! ” she declared^ staring at him, 
and then, his grin proving infectious, she 
added, not unkindly: “ Who are you, 

child?” 

“ I wish I was a society reporter or a 
photographer, or anybuddy who could do 
justice to your charms!” 

His gaze of admiration was so sincere 
that Fifi couldn’t resent it. 

She often looked her best in the morning, 
and her dainty negligee and bewitching 
French cap made her a lovely picture. 

She tucked herself into a big, cushioned 
chair, and drawing a smoking-stand nearer, 
fussed with its silver appointments. 

“ Lemme, ma’am,” said Fibsy eagerly, 
and, though it was his first attempt, he 
held a lighted match to her cigarette with 
real grace. Then, drawing a long breath 
of relief at his success, he took a cigarette 
himself, and sat near her. 

“ Well,” she began, “ w'hat’s it all about? 
And, do tell me how you got in! I’m glad 
you did, though it was against orders. I’ve 
not seen anything so amusing as you for a 
long time!” 

“ This is my amusin’ day,” returned the 
boy imperturbably. “ I came to talk over 
things in general — ” 

“ And what in particular?” 

Fifi was enjoying herself. She felt al- 
most sure the boy was a reporter of a new 
sort, but she was frankly curious. 

“ Well, ma’am,” and here Fibsy changed 
his demeanor to a stern, scowling fierce- 
ness, “ I’m a special investigator.” He rose 
now, and strode about the room. “ I’m en- 
gaged on the Embury murder case, and I’m 
here to ask you a few pointed questions.” 

“ My Heavens!” cried Fifi. “ What are 
you talking about?” 


“ Don’t scoff at me, ma’am — I’m in 
authority.” 

“ Oh, well, go ahead. Why are you 
questioning me? 

“ It’s this way, ma’am.” Fibsy sat down 
astride a chair, looking over the back of it 
at his hostess. “ You and Mrs. Embury 
are bosom friends, I understand.” 

“ From whom do you understand it?” 
was the tart response. “ From Mrs. Em- 
bury?” 

“ In a manner o’ speakin’, yes; and then 
again, no. But aren’t you?” 

“ We were. We were school friends, and 
have known each other for years. But 
since her — trouble, Mrs. Embury has 
thrown me over— has discarded me utterly. 
I’m so sorry!” 

Fifi daintily touched her eyes with a 
tiny square of monogrammed linen, and 
Fibsy said gravely: 

“ Careful, there, don’t dab your eye- 
lashes too hard!” 

“ What!” Mrs. Desternay could scarcely 
believe her ears. 

“ Honest, you’d better look out. It’s 
coming off now.” 

“ Nothing of the sort,” and Fifi whipped 
out a vanity case, and readjusted her cos- 
metic adornment. 

“ Thai I take it you two are not 
friends?” 

“ We most certainly are not. I wouldn’t 
do anything in the world to injure Eunice 
Embury — in fact, I’d help her, even now — 
though she scorned my assistance. But 
we’re not friends — no!” 

“ All right, I just wanted to know. Ask 
right out — that’s my motto.” 

“ It seems to be! Anything else you are 
thirsting to learn?” 

“ Yes’m. You know that ‘ Hamlet ’ per- 
formance you and Mis’ Embury went to?” 

‘‘Yes,” said Fifi cautiously. 

“ You know you accused her of talkin’ 
it over with you — ” 

“ She did!” 

“ Yes’m — I know you say she did — I get 
that from Mr. Shane. But lemme tell you, 
ma’am, friendly like, you want to be care- 
ful how you tell that yam, ’cause they’s 
chance for a perfectly good slander case 
against you!” 


RASPBERRY JAM. 


443 


“ What nonsense!” but Fifi paled a little 
under her delicate rouge. 

“ No nonsense whatsoever. But here’s 
the point. Was there a witness to that con- 
versation?” 

“ Why, let me see. We talked it over at 
the matinee — we were alone then — but, yes, 
of course, I recollect now — that same eve- 
ning Eunice was here and Mr. Hendricks 
was, too, and Mr. Patterson — he lives in 
their apartment house — the Embury’s, I 
mean — and we all talked about it! There! 
I guess that’s witnesses enough!” 

“ I guess it is. But take it from me, 
lady, you’re too pretty to get into a bother- 
some lawsuit, and I advise you to keep on 
the sunny side of the street, and let these 
shady matters alone.” 

“ I’ll gladly do so — honest, / don’t want 
to get Eunice in bad — ” 

“ Oh, no! We all know you don’t want 
to get her in bad — unless it can be done 
with abserlute safety to your own precious 
self! Well, it can’t, ma’am. You keep on 
like you’ve begun and your middle name ’ll 
soon be Trouble! Good morning, ma’am.” 

Fibsy rose, bowed and left the room so 
suddenly that Fifi hadn’t time to stop him 
if she had wanted to. And he left behind 
him a decidedly scared little woman. 

Fibsy then went straight to the offices of 
Mason Elliott. 

He was admitted and given an audience 
at once. 

“ What is it, McGuire?” asked the 
broker. 

“ A lot of things, Mr. Elliott. First of 
all, I suppose- the police are quite satisfied 
with the alibis of you and Mr. Hendricks?” 

“ Yes,” and Elliott looked curiously into 
the grave, earnest little face. He had re- 
sented, at first, the work of this boy, but 
after Fleming Stone had explained his 
worth, Elliott soon began to see it for him- 
self. 

“ They are unimpeachable,” he went on; 
“ I was at home, and Mr. Hendricks was 
in Boston. This has been proved over and 
over by many witnesses, both authentic 
and credible.” 

“ Yes,” Fibsy nodded. “ I’m sure of it, 
too. And, of course, that lets you two out. 
Now, Mr. Elliott, the butler didn’t do it— 


F. Stone- says that’s a self-evident fact. 
Bringin’ us back — as per usual — to the two 
ladies. But, Mr. Elliott, neither of those 
ladies did it.” 

“ Bless you, my boy, that’s my own opin- 
ion, of course, but how can we prove it?” 
Fibsy deeply appreciated the “ we ” and 
gave the speaker a grateful smile. 

“ There you are, Mr. Elliott, how can 
we? Mr. Stone, as you know, is the clever- 
est detective in the world, but he’s no ma- 
gician. He can’t find the truth, if the truth 
is hidden in a place he can’t get at.” 

“ Have you any idea, McGuire, who the 
murderer was?” 

“ No, sir, I haven’t. But I’ve an idea 
where to get an idea. And I want you to 
help me.” 

“ Surely — that goes without saying.” 
“You’d do anything for Mrs. Embury, 
wouldn’t you?” 

“ Anything.” The simple assertion told 
the whole story, gnd Fibsy nodded with 
satisfaction. 

“ Then tell me truly, sir, please, wasn’t 
Mr. Embury a — a — a — ” 

“ Careful, there. He’s dead, you know.” 
“ Yes, I know — but it’s necessary, sir. 
Wasn’t he a — I don’t know the right term, 
but a money-grabber?” 

“ In what way?” Elliott spoke very 
gravely. 

“ You know best, sir. He was your part- 
ner, had been for some years. But, on the 
side, now, didn’t he do this? Lend money — 
sorta personally, you know — on security.” 
“ And if he did?” 

“ Didn’t he demand big security— didn’t 
he get men — his friends even — in his power 
— and then come down on ’em — oh, wasn’t 
he a sort of a loan-shark?” 

“ Where did you get all this?” 

“ I put together odds and ends of talk 
I’ve heard — and it must be so. That Mr. 
Patterson, now — ” 

“ Patterson! What do you know of 
him?” 

“ Nothing, but that he owed Mr. Em- 
bury a lot, and his household stuff was the 
collateral — and — ” 

“ Where did you learn that? I insist on 
knowing!” 

“ Servants’ gossip, sir. I picked it up in 


444 


ALL- STORY WEEKLY. 


the apartment-house. He and the Emburys 
live in the same one, you know.” 

“McGuire, you are on a wrong trail. 
Mr. Embury may have lent money to his 
friends, may have had collateral security 
from them, probably did, but that’s nothing 
to do with his being killed. And as it is 
perhaps a blot on his memory, I do not 
want the matter made public.” 

“ I understand that, Mr. Elliott — neither 
do I. But s’posin’ the discovery of the 
murderer hinges on that very thing — that 
very branch of Mr. Embury’s business — 
then mustn’t it be looked into?” 

“ Perhaps it must — but not by you.” 

“ No, sir. By F. Stone.” 

CHAPTER XXXI. 
hanlon’s ambition. 

A N important feature of Fleming Stone’s 
efficiency was his ability to make use 
of the services of others. In the pres- 
ent case, he skilfully utilized both Shane’s 
and Driscoll’s energies, and received their 
reports, diplomatically concealing the fact 
that he was making tools of them, and let- 
ting them infer that he was merely their 
coworker. 

Also, he depended greatly on Fibsy’s 
assistance. The boy was indefatigable, 
and he did errands intelligently, and made 
investigations with a minute attention to 
details, that delighted the heart of his mas- 
ter. 

Young McGuire had all the natural at- 
tributes of a detective, and under the tui- 
tion of Fleming Stone was advancing rap- 
idly. 

When assisting Stone on. a case, the two 
usually lived together at some hotel, Stone 
going back and forth between there and his 
own home, which was now in a Westchester 
suburb. 

It was part of the routine that the two 
should breakfast together and plan the 
day’s work. These breakfasts were care- 
fully arranged meals, with correct appoint- 
ments, for Stone had the boy’s good at 
heart, and was glad to train him in deport- 
ment for his own sake; but also, he desired 
that Fibsy should be presentable in any 


society, as the pursuit of the detective call- 
ing made it often necessary that the boy 
should visit in well-conducted homes. 

Fibsy was, therefore, eating his breakfast 
after the most approved formula, when 
Stone said: “ Well, Fibs, how about Sykes 
and Barton? Now for the tale of your call 
on Willy Hanlon yesterday.” 

“ I went down there, Mr. Stone, but I 
didn’t see Hanlon. He was out. But, I 
did a lot better. I saw Mr. Barton, of 
Sykes and Barton, and I got an earful! It 
seems Friend Willy has ambitions.” 

“ In what line?” 

“ Upward! Like the gentleman in the 
poetry-book, he wants to go higher, higher, 
ever higher — ” 

“ Airplane?” 

“ No, not that way — steeplejack.” 

“ Painting spires?” 

“ Not only spires, but signs in high 
places, dangerous places. And, you know, 
Mr. Stone, he told us, that day at the Em- 
bury house, that he didn’t climb — that he 
painted signs, and let other people put them 
up.” 

“ Yes; well? What of it?” 

“ Only this: why did be try to deceive 
us? Why, Mr. Barton says he’s a most 
daring climber — he’s practising to be a 
human fly.” 

“A human fly? Is that a new circus 
stunt?” 

“ You know what I mean. You’ve seen 
a human fly perform, haven’t you?” 

“ Oh, that chap who stood on his head on 
the coping of the Woolworth Building to get 
contributions for the Red Cross? He wasn’t 
Hanlon, was he?” 

“ No, sir, that man was the original — or 
one of the first ones. There are lots of 
human flies, now. They cut up tricks all 
over the country. And Willy Hanlon is 
practising for that — but he doesn’t want it 
known.” 

“ .Ml right, I won’t tell, His guilty secret 
is safe with me!” 

“ Now, you’re laughing at me, Mr. Stone! 
All right — just you wait — and Hanlon goes 
around on a motor-cycle, too!” 

“He does! Then we are undone! What 
a revelation! And now, Fibs, if you’ll ex- 
plain to me the significance of Hanlon’s as- 


RASPBERRY JAM. 445 


piring ambitions and his weird taste for 
motor-cycles, I’ll be obliged.” 

Fibsy was extremely, even absurdly sen- 
sitive to irony. Sometimes it didn’t, affect 
him seriously, and then, again, he would be 
so hurt and embarrassed by it, that it fairly 
made him unable to talk. 

In this instance, it overcame him utterly, 
and his funny little freckled face turned 
red and his eyes lost their eagerness and 
showed only chagrin. 

“ Come, come,” said Stone, regretting his 
teasing, but determined to help the boy 
overcome his sensitiveness to it, “ brace up 
Fibs, you know I meant no harm. I know 
you have something in your noddle — and, 
doubtless, something jolly well worth 
while.” 

“ Well — I — oh, wait a minute, Mr. Stone, 
I’m a fool, but I can’t help it. When you 
come at me like that, I lose all faith in my 
notions. For it’s only a notion, and a 
crazy one at that, and — well, sir, you wait 
till I’ve worked up a little further — and if 
there’s anything to it — I’ll expound. Now, 
what’s my orders for to-day?” 

Fibsy had an obstinate streak in his 
makeup, and Fleming Stone was too wise 
to insist on Fibsy’s “expounding” just then. 

Instead, he said, pleasantly, “ To-day, 
Fibs, I want you to make a round of the 
drug-stores. It’s not a hopeful job— in- 
deed, I can’t think it can amount to any- 
thing — but have a try at it. You remember 
Mr. Hendricks had the earache — ” 

“ I do, indeed! He had it a month ago, 
and what’s more, he denied it — at first.” 

“ Yes; well, use your discretion for all 
it’s worth, but get a line on the doctor that 
prescribed for him — it was a bad case, you 
know, and find out what he got to relieve 
him and where he got it.” 

“ Yes, sir. Say, Mr. Stone, is Mr. Hend- 
ricks implicated?” 

“ In the murder? Why, he was in Bos- 
ton at the time — a man can’t be in two 
places at once, can he?” 

“ He can not! He has a perfect alibi — 
hasn’t he, Mr. Stone?” 

“ He sure has, Fibsy. And yet — he was 
in the party that discussed the possibilities 
of despatching people by the henbane 
route.” 


“ Yes, sir — but so was Mr. Patterson — 
Miss Desternay said so.” 

“ The Patterson business must be looked 
into. I’ll attend to that to-day — I’ll also 
see Mr. Elliott about that matter of per- 
sonal loans that Mr. Embury seemed to be 
conducting as a side business.” 

“Yes, do, please. Mr. Stone, it would 
be a first class motive, if Mr. Embury had a 
strangle-hold on somebody who owed him 
a whole lot and couldn’t pay, and — ” 

“ Fine motive, my boy. But how about 
opportunity? You forget those bolted 
doors.” ‘ 

“ And Mr. Patterson had borrowed 
money of Mr. Embury — ” 

“ How do you know that?” 

“ I heard it — oh, well, I got it from one 
of the footmen of the apartment house — ” 
“ Footmen! What do you mean?” 

“ You know there’s a lot of employees — 
porters, rubbish men, doormen, hallmen, 
pages and Lord knows what! ” 

“ Anyway, one of those persons told me 
— for a consideration — a lot about the priv- 
ate affairs of the tenants. You know, Mr. 
Stone, those footmen pick up a lot of in- 
formation — overhearing here and there — 
and from the private servants kept by the 
tenants.” 

“ That’s true, Fibs, there must be a 
mine of information available in that way.” 
“ There is, sir. And I caught onto a 
good deal — and especially, I learned that 
Mr. Patterson is in the faction— or what- 
ever you call it — that didn’t want Mr. Em- 
bury to be president of that club.” 

“ And so you think Mr. Patterson had a 
hand in the murder?” 

Stone’s face was grave, and there was no 
hint of banter in his tone, so Fibsy replied, 
earnestly: “ Well, he is the man who has 
lots of empty jam jars go down in the 
garbage pails.” 

“ But he has lots of children.” 

“ Yes, sir — four. Oh, well, I suppose 
a good many people like raspberry jam.” 

“ Go on, Fibsy; don’t be discouraged. 
As I’ve often told you, a scrap of evidence 
is worth considering. A second one, 
against the same man, is important and a 
third, is decidedly valuable.” 

“ Yes, sir, that’s what I’m bankin’ on. 


446 


ALL-STORY WEEKLY. 


You see, Mr. Patterson, now, he’s over 
head and ears in debt to Embury. He was 
against Embury for club president. He 
was present at the henbane discussion. And 
he’s an habitual buyer of raspberry jam.” 
“ Some counts,” and Fleming Stone 
looked thoughtful. “ But not entirely con- 
vincing. How’d he get in?” 

“ You know his apartment is directly be- 
neath the Embury apartment — but two 
floors below.” 

“ Might as well be ten floors below. How 
could he get in?” 

“ Somebody got in, Mr. Stone. You 
know as well as I do, that neither Mrs. Em- 
bury nor Miss Ames committed that mur- 
der. We must face that.” 

“ Nor did Ferdinand do it. I’ll go you 
all those assumptions.” 

“ All right, sir; then somebody got in 
from outside.” 

“ How?” 

“ Mr. Stone, haven’t you ever read de- 
tective stories where a murder was commit- 
ted in a room that was locked and double- 
locked and yet somebody did get in — and 
the fun of the story is guessing how he got 
in.” 

“ Fiction, my boy, is one thing. Fact is 
quite another.” 

“ No, sir, they’re both the same thing!” 
“ All right, son, have it your own way. 
Now, if you’re ready to get ready— skittle 
off to your chain of drug-stores, and run 
down a henbane purchase by any citizen of 
this little old town — or adjacent boroughs.” 
Fibsy went off. He had recovered from 
the sense of annoyance at being chaffed by 
Stone, but it made him more resolved than 
ever to prove the strange theory he had 
formed. He didn’t dignify his idea by the 
name of theory, but he was doggedly stick- 
ing to a notion, which, he hoped, would 
bring forth some strange developments, and 
speedily. 

Laying aside his own plans for the mo- 
ment, he went about Stone’s business, and 
had little difficulty in finding the nearby 
druggist whom Hendricks patronized. 

“ Alvord Hendricks? Sure he trades 
here,” said the dapper young clerk. “ He 
buys mostly shaving-cream and tooth-paste, 
but here’s where he buys it.” 


“ Righto! And, say a month or so ago, 
he bought some hyoscin— ” 

“ Oh, no, excuse me, he did not! That’s 
not sold hit or miss. But maybe you mean 
hyoscyamin. That’s another thing.” 

“ Why, maybe I do. Look up the sale, 
can’t you, and make sure.” 

“ Why should I?” 

Fibsy explained that in the interests of a 
police investigation it might be better to 
acquiesce than to question why, and the 
young man proved obliging. 

So Terence McGuire learned that Alvord 
Hendricks bought some hyoscyamin, on a 
doctor’s prescription, about a month ago — 
the same to be used to relieve a serious case 
of earache. 

But there was no record of his having 
bought hyoscin, which was the deadly hen- 
bane used in the medicine dropper— nor 
was there any other record of hyoscin 
against him. 

Satisfied that he had learned all he could, 
Fibsy continued his round of drug-store 
visits, in an ever-widening circle, but got 
no information on any henbane sales what- 
ever. 

“ Nothin’ doin’ ” he told himself. “ Who- 
ever squirted that henbane from that 
squirter into that ear, brought said hen- 
bane from a distance, which, to my mind, 
indicates a far-seeing and intelligent rea- 
soning power.” 

CHAPTER XXXII. 

“what a feller!” 

* v 

H IS present duty done, he started forth 
on his own tour of investigation. He 
went to a small boarding-house, in an 
inconspicuous street, the address of which 
had been given him by Mr. Barton, and 
asked for Mr. Hanlon. 

“ He ain’t home,” declared the frowning 
Jandlady who opened the door. 

“ I know it,” returned Fibsy, nonchalant- 
ly, “ but I gotta go up to his room a min- 
ute. He sent me.” 

“ How do I know that?” 

* “ That’s so, how do you?” Fibsy’s grin 
was sociable. “ Well, look here, I guess 
this’ll fix it. I’m errand boy to — you know 


447 


RASPBERRY JAM. 


who — ” he winked mysteriously, “ to the 
man he takes his acrobat lessons off of.” 

“ Oh,” the woman looked frightened. 
“ Hush up — it’s all right. Only don’t men- 
tion no names. Go on up-stairs — third floor 
front.” 

“ Yep,” and Fibsy went quietly up the 
stairs. 

Hanlon’s room was not locked, but a big 
wardrobe inside was — and nothing else 
was of interest to the visitor. He picked at 
the lock with his knife, but to no avail. 

As he stood looking wistfully at the 
wardrobe door, a cheerful voice sounded 
behind him: 

“ I’ll open it for you — what do you want 
out of it?” 

Fibsy looked up quickly, to see Hanlon 
himself smiling at him. 

Quick to take a cue, the boy didn’t show 
any embarrassment, but putting out his 
hand said: “ How do you do, Mr. Hanlon?” 

“ Fine. How’s yourself? And why the 
sneak visit?” 

Fibsy looked his questioner square in 
the eye, and then said, “ Oh, well, I s’pose 
I may as well speak right out.” 

“ You sure may. Either tell the truth, 
or put up such a convincing lie that I’ll 
think it’s the truth. Go ahead.” 

“ Here goes, then,” Fibsy made a quick 
decision that Hanlon was too keen to stand 
for any lie. “ I’m engaged on the Embury 
murder case.” 

“ I know that’s true — -though it’s hard to 
believe.” 

Fibsy chose to ignore this dig, and went 
on. “ I’m here because I want to see how 
you’re mixed up in it.” 

“ Oh, you do! Why not ask me?” 

“ All right— I ask you. How are you 
connected with the murder of Sanford Em- 
bury?” 

“ Will anything I say be used against 
me?” Hanlon’s tone was jocular but he was 
staring hard at Fibsy’s face. 

“ If it’s usable,” was the quiet reply. 

“ Well, use it if you can. I’m mixed up 
in the matter — as you put it — because I’m 
trying to find the murderer on my own 
account.” 

“Why do you want the murderer on 
your own account?” 


“ I didn’t agree to answer more than one 
question. But I will. I don’t want the 
murderer particularly, but I’m interested 
in the case. I’ve the detective instinct 
myself, and I thought if I could track down 
the villain — I might get a reward — ” 

“ Is there one offered?” 

“ Not that I know of — but I daresay 
either Mr. Elliott or Mr. Hendricks would 
willingly pay to have the murderer found.” 
“ Why those two? Why not Mrs. Em- 
bury?” 

“ Innocent child! Those two are deeply, 
desperately, darkly in love with the — the 
widow.” 

“ Let’s leave her out of this!” 

“ Ha, ha! a squire of dames, eh — and at 
your age! All right — leave the lady’s name 
out. But I’ve confessed my hidden pur- 
pose. Now tell me what brings you to my 
domicil, on false pretenses — and why do 
I find you on the point of breaking into 
my wardrobe?” 

“ Truth does it! I wanted to see if I 
could find a false beard and a white tur- 
ban.” 

“ Oh, you did! And what good would 
that do you? You have cleverly discerned 
that I assumed an innocent disguise in order 
to give aid and comfort to a most worthy 
dame of advanced years.” 

“ You did — but why?” 

“Are you Paul Pry? You’ll drive me 
crazy with your eternal why?” 

“ All right, go crazy — but, why?” 

“ The same old reason,” and Hanlon 
spoke seriously. “ I’m trying, as I said, to 
find the Embury murderer, and I contrived 
that session with the old lady, in hopes of 
learning something to help me along.” 

“ And did you?” 

“ I learned that she is a harmless, but 
none the less, positively demented woman. 
I learned that she deceives herself — in a 
way, hypnotizes herself, and she believes 
she sees and hears things that she does not 
see and hear.” 

“ And tastes them? And smells them?” 
“ There, too, she deceived herself. Sure- 
ly, you don’t take in that story of her 
‘ vision ’?” 

“ I believe she believes it.” 

“ Yes, so do I. Now, look here. Me- 


448 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


Guire, I’m a good-natured sort, and I’m 
willing to overlook this raid of yours, if 
you’ll join forces. I can help you, but 
only if you’re frank and honest in whacking 
up with me whatever information you have. 
I know something, you know something- 
will you go in cahoots?” 

“ I would, Mr. Hanlon,” and Fibsy 
looked regretful, “ I would if I was my own 
boss. But, you see, I’m under orders. I’m 
F. Stone’s helper— and I’ll tell you what 
he says I can — and that’s all.” 

“ That goes. I don’t want any more 
than your boss lets you spill. .Mid now — - 
honest — what did you come here for?” 

“ To look in that wardrobe, as I said.” 
“ Why, bless your heart, child, you’re 
welcome to do that.” 

Hanlon drew a key from his pocket, and 
flung the wardrobe door wide. There you 
are. Go to it!” 

Swiftly, but methodically, Fibsy took 
down every article of wearing apparel the 
wardrobe contained, glanced at it and re- 
turned it, Hanlon looking on with an 
amused expression on his face. 

“ Any incriminating evidence?” he said 
at last, as Fibsy hung up the final piece of 
clothing. 

“ Not a scrap,” was the honest reply. 
“ If I don’t get more evidence offen some- 
body else than I do from you, I’ll go home 
empty-handed ! ” 

“ Let me help you,” and Hanlon spoke 
kindly; “ I’ll hunt evidence with you.” 

“ Some day maybe. I’ve got to-day all 
dated up. And, say, why did you tell me 
you wasn’t a steeplejack painter, when you 
are?” 

“ You’re right, I am. But I don’t want 
it known, because I’m going to branch out 
in a new field soon, and I don't want that 
advertised at present.” 

“ I know, Mr. Barton told me. You’re 
going to be a human fly, and cut up pranks 
on the edges of roofs of skyscrapers — ” 

“ Hush, not so loud. Yes, I am, but the 
goal is far distant. But I’m going to have 
a whack at it— and I know I can succeed, 
in time.” 

Hanlon’s eyes had a faraway, hopeful 
look as if gazing into a future of marvelous 
achievement in his chosen field. “ Oh, I 


say, boy! It’s glorious, this becoming ex- 
pert in something difficult. It pays for all 
the work and training and practise!” 

The true artist’s ambition rang in his 
voice, and Fibsy gazed at him, fascinated, 
for the boy was a hero-worshipper, and 
adored proficiency in any art. 

“ When you going to exhibit?” he asked 
eagerly. , 

“ A little try at it next week. Wanta 
come?” 

” Don't I! Where?” 

•‘Hush! I’ll whisper. Philadelphia.” 

“ I’ll be there! Lemme know the date 
and all.” 

•‘ Yes. I will. Must you go? Here’s your 
hat.” 

Fibsy laughed, took the hint and de- 
parted. 

“ What a feller!” he marveled to himself, 
as he went on his way. “ Oh, gee, what a 
feller!” 


CHAPTER XXXIII. 

LOVE OF TWO KINDS. 

“A LYORD. you shock me — you amaze 
A^me! How dare you talk to me of 
love, when my husband hasn’t been 
dead a fortnight?” 

“ What matter, Eunice? You never 

reallv loved Sanford — ” 

“ I did— I did!” 

“ Not lately, anyhow. Perhaps just at 
first, and then, not deeply. He carried you 
originally by storm — it was an even toss- 
up whether he or Elliott or I won out. He 
was the most forceful of the three, and he 
made you marry him— didn’t he, now?” 

“ Don't talk nonsense, I married Sanford 
of my own free will — ” 

“ Yes, and in haste, and repented at 
leisure. Now, don’t be hypocritical, and 
pretend to grieve for him. His death was 
shocking, fearful, but you’re really relieved 
that he is gone. Why not admit it?” 

“ Alvord, stop such talk! I command 
you! I won’t listen!” 

“ Very well, dearest, I’ll stop it. I beg 
your pardon — I forgot myself, I confess. 
Now’, let me atone. I love you, Eunice, and 
I’ll promise not to tell you so, or to talk 


RASPBERRY JAM. 


449 


about it now, if you’ll just give me a ray of 
hope — a glimmer of anticipation. 

“ Will you — sometime — darling, let me 
tell you of my love? After such an inter- 
val as you judge proper? Will you, Eu- 
nice?” 

“ No, I will not! I don’t love you — I 
never did, and never can love you! How 
did -you ever get such an idea into your 
head?” 

The beautiful face expressed surprise and 
incredulity, rather than anger, and Eunice’s 
voice was gentle. In such a mood, she was 
even more attractive than in her more viva- 
cious moments. 

Unable to control himself, Hendricks took 
a step toward her, and folded her in his 
arms. 

She made no effort to disengage herself, 
but said, in a tone of utter disdain : “ Let 
me go, Alvord; you bore me.” 

As she had well known, this angered 
him far more than her own angry words 
would have done. 

He released her instantly, but his face 
was blazing with indignation. 

“ Oh, I do — do I? And who can make 
love to you, and not bore you? Elliott?” 

“ You are still forgetting yourself.” 

“ I am not! I am thinking of myself 
only. Oh, Eunice — dear Eunice, I have 
loved you so long — and I have been good. 
All the time you were Sanford’s wife, I 
never so much as called you 1 dear ’, — never 
gave you even a look that wasn’t one of re- 
spect for my friend’s wife. 

“ But, now — now, that you are free — I 
have a right to woo you. It is too soon- 
yes, I know that — but I will wait — wait as 
long, as you command, if you’ll only prom- 
ise me that I may — sometime — ” 

“.Never! I told you that before — I do 
not want to be obliged to repeat it! Please 
understand, once for all, I have no love to 
give you — ” 

“ Because it is another’s! Eunice, tell 
me you do not care for Elliott, and I won’t 
say another word — now. I’ll wait patient- 
ly — for a year, two years, as long as you 
wish— only give me the assurance that you 
will not marry Mason Elliott.” ( 

“ You are impossible! How dare you 
speak to me of my marriage with anybody, 
9 A-S 


when my husband is only just dead? One 
word more, Alvord, on the subject, and I 
shall forbid you my house!” 

“ All right, my lady! Put on your high 
and mighty air, if you choose — but before 
you marry that man, you had better make 
sure that he did not prepare the way for 
the wedding!” 

“ What do you mean? Are you accusing 
Mason of — ” 

“ I make no accusations. But, who killed 
Sanford? I know you didn’t do it — and 
Elliott has engaged Stone to prove that you 
didn’t. It is absurd, we all know, to sus- 
pect Aunt Abby. I was out of town — who 
is left but Mason?” 

“ Hush! I won’t listen to such a sug- 
gestion! Mason was at his home that 
night.” 

“ Are you sure?” 

“Of course I’m sure! And I don’t have 
to have it proved by a detective, either! 
'And now, Alvord Hendricks you may go! 
I don’t care to talk to anyone who can 
make such a contemptible accusation 
against a lifelong friend!” 

But before Hendricks left, Elliott him- 
self came in. 

He was grave and preoccupied. He 
bowed a little curtly to Hendricks, and, as 
he took Eunice’s hand, he said: “ May I 
not see you alone? I want to talk over 
some business matters — and I’m pressed for 
time.” 

“ Oh, all right,” Hendricks said, “ I can 
take a hint. I’m going. How’s your 
sleuth progressing, Elliott? Has Mr. Stone 
unearthed the murderer yet?” 

“ Not yet— but soon’” and Elliott es- 
sayed to pass the subject off lightly. 

“Very soon?” Hendricks looked at him 
curiously. 

“ Very soon, I think.” 

“ That’s interesting. Would it be indis- 
creet to ask in what direction one must look 
for the criminal?” 

“ It would, very.” Elliott smiled a little. 
“ Now, run along Hendricks there’s a good 
chap. I’ve important business matters to 
talk over with Eunice.” 

Hendricks went, and Elliott turned to 
Eunice, with a grave face. 

“ I’ve been going over Sanford’s private 


450 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


papers,” he said, “ and Eunice, there’s a 
lot that we want to keep quiet.” 

“ Was Sanford a bad man? ” she asked, 
her quiet, white face imploring a negative 
answer. 

“ Not so very, but as you know, he had a 
love of money, a sort of acquisitiveness that 
led him into questionable dealings. He 
loaned money to any one who could give 
him security — ” 

“ That isn’t wrong!” 

“ Not in itself — but, oh, Eunice, I can’t 
explain it to you — or at least I don’t want 
to — but Sanford lent money to men, to his 
friends, who were in great straits— who 
gave their choicest belongings, their treas- 
ures as security — and then, he had no leni- 
ency, no compassion for them — 

“ Why should he have?” 

“ Because — well, there is a justice, that 
is almost criminal. Sanford was a — a 
Shylock! There, can you understand, 
now?” 

“ Who were his debtors? Alvord?” 

“ Yes; Hendricks was one who owed him 
enormous sums — and he was going to make 
lots of trouble — I mean Sanford was. Why, 
Eunice, in Sanford’s private safe are prac- 
tically all of Hendricks’s stocks and bonds 
put up as a collateral. Sanford holds mort- 
gages on all Hendricks’s belongings — real 
estate, furniture, everything. 

“ Now, just at the time Sanford died, 
these notes were due — this indebtedness of 
Hendricks to Sanford had to be paid, and 
only the fact of San’s death occurring just 
when it did, saved Alvord from financial 
ruin.” 

“ Do you mean Sanford would have in- 
sisted on the payment?” 

“ Yes.” 

“ Then — oh, Mason, I can’t say it — I 
wouldn’t breathe it to anyone but you — but 
could Alvord have killed Sanford?” 

“ Of course not, Eunice. He was in Bos- 
ton, you know.” 

“ Yes, I know. But — Mason, he hinted 
to me just now, that — that maybe you 
killed San.” 

“ Did he, dear? Then he was angry or — 
or crazy! He doesn’t think so. Perhaps he 
was — jealous.” 

“ Yes, he was! How did you know?” 


“ I have eyes. You don’t care for him — 
particularly— do you — Eunice?” 

Their eyes met — and in one long look, the 
truth was told. A great love existed be- 
tween these two, and both had been honest 
and honorable so long as Eunice was San- 
ford’s wife. And even now, though Em- 
bury was gone, Elliott made no protesta- 
tion of love to his widow — said no word 
that might not have been heard by the 
whole world, but they both knew — no word 
was necessary. 

A beautiful expression came over Eu- 
nice’s face; she smiled a little and the love- 
light in her eyes was unmistakable.' 

“ I shall never lose my temper again,” 
she said, softly, and Mason Elliott believed 
her. 

“ Another big debtor to Sanford is Mr. 
Patterson,” he went on, forcing himself to 
calm his riotous pulses, and continue his 
business talk. 

“ How that man seems to be mixed into 
our affairs.” 

“ He’s very much mixed up in San’s af- 
fairs. But, Eunice, I don’t want to burden 
you with all these details. Only, you see, 
Alvord is your lawyer, and — it’s confound- 
edly awkward — ” 

“ Look here, Mason, do this — can’t you? 
Forgive Alvord all Sanford’s claims on him. 
I mean, wipe the slate clean, as far as he is 
concerned. 

“ I don’t want his money — I mean I 
don’t want his stocks and things. Give 
them back to him, and hush the matter up. 
You know, we four, Sanford and Alvord 
and you and I,, are the old quartet — the 
1 three boys and a girl ’ who used to play 
together. Now one of us is gone — don’t 
let’s make any trouble for another of the 
group. 

“ I’ve enough money without realizing on 
Alvord’s securities. Give them all back to 
him — and forget it. Can’t we?” 

“ Why, yes, I suppose so — if you so de- 
cree. What about Patterson?” 

“ Oh, those things you and Alvord must 
look after. I’ve no head for business. And 
anyway — must it be attended to at once?” 

“ Not immediately. Sanford’s estate is 
so large and his debtors so numerous, it will 
take months to get it adjusted.” 


RASPBERRY JAM. 


451 


“ Very well, let anything unpleasant wait 
for a while, then.” 


CHAPTER XXXIV. 

THE GUILTY ONE. 

N OW, on this very day, and at this very 
hour Fibsy was in Philadelphia, 
watching the initial performance of a 
new “ human fly.” 

A crowd was gathered about the tall sky- 
scraper, where the event was to take place, 
and when Hanlon appeared, he was greeted 
by a roar that warmed his heart. 

Bowing and smiling at his audience, he 
started on his perilous climb up the side of 
the building. 

The sight was thrilling, nerve-racking. 
Breathlessly the people watched as he 
climbed up the straight, sheer facade, 
catching now at a window ledge, now at a 
bit of stone ornamentation, and again, 
seeming to hold on by nothing at all- — al- 
most as a real fly does. 

When he negotiated a particularly diffi- 
cult place, the crowd forebore to cheer, in- 
stinctively, feeling that it might disturb him. 

He went on, higher and higher, pausing 
at times to look down and smile at the sea 
of upturned faces below. Then, in a mo- 
ment of bravado, he even dared to pause, 
and hanging on by one hand and one foot, 
he “ scissored out ” his other limbs and 
waved a tiny flag which he- carried. 

On he went, and on, at last reaching the 
very top. Over the coping he climbed, and 
gaily waved his flag as he bowed to the 
applauding crowds in the street. 

Then, for Hanlon was a daring soul, the 
return journey was begun. 

Even more fascinating and dangerous 
than the ascent was this feat. 

Fibsy watched him, noted every step, 
every motion, and was fairly beside him- 
self with the excitement of the moment. 

And, then, when half a dozen stories 
from the ground — when success was almost 
within his grasp, something happened. No- 
body knew what — a slip, a misstep, a mis- 
calculation of distance — whatever the 
cause, Hanlon fell. Fell from the sixth 
story to the ground. 


Those nearest the catastrophe jumped 
back. Others pushed forward. An ambu- 
lance, ready for such a possible occasion, 
hurried the injured man to the hospital. 

For Hanlon was not killed, but so 
crushed and broken that his life was but 
a matter of hours — perhaps moments. 

‘‘Let me in — I must see him!” Fibsy 
fought the doormen, the attendants. 

“ I tell you I must! In the name of the 
law, let me in!” 

And then, a more coherent insistence 
brought him permission and he was ad- 
mitted to Hanlon’s presence. 

A priest was there, administering final 
unction, and saying such words of comfort 
as he could command, but at sight of Fibsy, 
Hanlon’s dull eyes brightened and he par- 
tially revived. 

“Yes — him!” he cried out, with a sud- 
den flicker of energy. “ I must talk to 
him! ” 

The doctor fell back, and made way for 
the boy. 

“ Let him talk if he likes,” he said. 
Nothing matters now. Poor chap, he can't 
live ten minutes.” 

Awed, but determined, Fibsy approached 
the bedside. 

He looked at Hanlon — strangely still and 
white, yet his eyes burning with a desperate 
desire to communicate something. 

“ Come here,” he whispered, and Fibsy 
drew nearer. 

“ You know?” he said. 

“ Yes,” and Fibsy glanced around as if 
to be sure of his witnesses to this strange 
confession. “ You killed Sanford Embury.” 

“ I did. I — I, oh, I can’t talk. You 
talk—” 

“ This is his confession,” Fibsy turned to 
the priest and the doctor. “ Listen to it. 
Then addressing himself again to Hanlon, 
he resumed: “ You climbed up the side of 
the apartment house — on the cross street, 
not on Park Avenue, and you got in at Miss 
Ames’s window.” 

“ Yes,” said Hanlon, his white lips barely 
moving, but his eyes showing acquiescence. 

“ You went straight through those two 
rooms — softly, not awakening either of the 
ladies — and you killed Mr. Embury, and 


452 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


then — you returned through the same bed- 
rooms — ” 

Again the eyes said yes. 

“ And, when you were passing through 
Miss Ames’s room, she stirred, and thinking 
she might be awake, you stopped and 
leaned over her to see. There, you acci- 
dentally let fall — perhaps from your breast 
pocket — the little glass dropper, you had 
used — and as you bent over the old lady, 
she grabbed at you, and felt •our jersey 
sleeve — even bit at "it — and tasted rasp- 
berry jam. That jam got on that sleeve as 
you climbed up past the Patterson’s win- 
dow, where a jar of it was on the window 
sill—” 

“ Yes — that’s right — ” Hanlon breathed, 
and on his face was a distinct look of ad- 
miration for the boy’s perception. 

“ You wore a faintly-ticking wrist-watch 
• — the same one you’re wearing now — and 
the odor of gasoline about you, was from 
your motor-cycle. You, then were the vi- 
sion Miss Ames has so often described, and 
you glided silently away from her bedside, 
and out at the window by which you en- 
tered. Gee! It was some stunt!” 

This tribute of praise was wrung from 
Fibsy by the sudden realization that what 
he had for some time surmised, was really 
true! 

“ I guess it was that jam that did for 
you,” he went on, “ but, say, we ain’t got 
no time for talkin’.” 

Hanlon’s eyes were already glazing, his 
breath came shorter and it was plain to be 
seen the end was very near. 

“ Who hired you?” Fibsy flung the 
question at him, with such force that it 
seemed to rouse a last effort of the ebbing 
life, in the dying man and he answered, 
faintly but clearly: 

“ Alvord Hendricks — ten thousand dol- 
lars — ” 

And then Hanlon was gone. 

Reminding the priest and the doctor that 
they were witnesses to this dying confession, 
Fibsy rushed from the room and back to 
New York as fast as he could get there. 

He learned by telephone that Fleming 
Stone was at Mrs. Embury’s, and. pausing 
only to telephone for Shane to go at once to 


the same house, Fibsy jumped in a taxicab 
and hurried up there himself. 

“ It’s all over,” he burst forth, as he 
dashed into the room where Stone sat, talk- 
ing to Eunice. Mason Elliott was there, 
too, indeed, he was a frequent visitor, and 
Aunt Abby sat by with her knitting. 

“ What is?” asked Stone, looking at the 
boy in concern. For Fibsy was greatly ex- 
cited, his fingers worked nervously and his 
voice shook. 

“ The whole thing, Mr. Stone! Hanlon’s 
dead — and he killed Mr. Embury.” 

“ Yes, — I know — ” Fleming Stone 

showed no surprise. “ Did he fall?” 

“ Yes sir. Got up the climb all right, and 
’most down again, and fell from the sixth 
floor. Killed him — but not instantly. I 
went to the hospital, and he confessed.” 

“ Who did?” said Shane, coming in at 
the door as the last words were spoken. 

“ Willy Hanlon — the human fly.” 

And then Fleming Stone told the whole 
story — Fibsy adding here and there his bits 
of information. 

“ But 1 don’t understand,” said Shane at 
last, “ why would that chap kill Mr. Em- 
bury?” 

“ Plired,” said Fibsy, as Stone hesitated 
to speak; “ hired by a man who paid him 
ten thousand dollars.” 

“Hanlon a gunman!” said Shane, 
amazed. 

“ Not a professional one,” Fibsy said, 
“ but he acted as one in this case. The man 
who hired him knew he was privately 
learning to be a ‘ human fly ’, and he -had 
the diabolical thought of hiring him to 
climb up this house, and get in at the only 
available window, and kill Mr. Embury 
with that henbane stuff.” 

“ And the man’s name?” shouted Shane. 
“ The name?” 

Fibsy sat silent, looking at Stone. 

“ Flis name is Alvord E. Hendricks,” was 
Stone’s quiet reply. 

An instant commotion arose. Eunice, 
her great eyes full of horror, ran to Aunt 
Abby, who seemed about to collapse. 

Mason Elliott started up with a sudden: 
“ Where is he?” and Shane echoed, with a 
roar: “ Yes, where is he? Can he get 
away?” 


RASPBERRY JAM. 


453 


“ No,” said Stone, “ he can’t. I have him 
covered day and night by my men. At 
present, Mr. Shane, he is, I am quite sure, 
in his office — if you want to go there — ” 

“ If I want to go there! I should say I 
do! He’ll get his!” 

And in less than half an hour, Shane had 
taken Alvord Hendricks into custody, and 
in due time that arch criminal received the 
retribution of justice. 

Shane gone, Fibsy went over the whole 
story again. 

“ You see, it was Mr. Stone’s keeping at 
it, what did it. He connected up Hanlon 
and the jam — he connected up Mr. Hend- 
ricks and the Hamlet business — we con- 
nected up Hanlon and the gasoline — and 
Hanlon and the jersey and the motor-cycle 
and all!” Fibsy grew excited; “ Then we 
connected up Hendricks and his ‘ perfect 
alibi.’ Always distrust the perfect alibi — 
that’s one of Mr. Stone’s first maxims. 

“ Well, this Hendricks, he had a pluper- 
fect alibi, couldn’t be shaken, so Mr. 
Stone, he says, the more perfect the alibi, 
the more we must distrust it. So he went 
for that alibi — and he found that Mr. Hend- 
ricks was sure in Boston that night, but he 
didn’t have any real reason, not any im- 
perative reason for going — it was a sorta 
trumped up trip. 

“ Well, that’s the way it was. He had 
to get Mr. Embury out of the way just 

(The 

rr t 

REMEMl 


then, or be shown up — a ruined man — and, 
too, he was afraid Mr. Embury’d be presi- 
dent of the club — and, too — he wanted 
to—” 

Fibsy gave one eloquent glance at Eunice, 
and paused abruptly in his speech. 

Every one knew — every one realized that 
love of Sanford Embury’s wife was one rea- 
son, at least, for the fatal deed. Every- 
body realized that Alvord Hendricks was a 
villain through and through — that he had 
killed his friend — though not by his own 
hand. 

Eunice never saw Hendricks again. She 
and Aunt Abby went away for a year’s stay. 
They traveled in lovely lands, where the 
scenery and climate brought rest and peace 
to Eunice’s troubled heart, and where she 
learned, by honest effort, to control her 
quick temper. 

And, then, after two of the one-time 
friendly quartet had become only past mem- 
ory, the remaining two, Eunice and Mason 
Elliott found happiness and joy. 

“ One of our biggest cases, F. Stone.” 
said Fibsy, one day, reminiscently. 

“ It was, indeed, Fibs: and you did 
yourself proud.” 

“ Great old scheme! Perfect alibi — un- 
known human fly — bolted doors — all the 
elements of a successful crime — if he hadn’t, 
slipped on that raspberry jam!” 

end.) 

rj 

SRANCE 


BY LOUIS GINSBERG 

I SAW two lovers in the park — 

* And felt as if a spark was caught 
Swift from a flash of memory 
To kindle all my boughs of thought! 

Till branch on branch, and bough on bough 
Flared with the fire leaping fast — 

Blazed to the roots of all my mind, 

In conflagration of my past! 

And in the circle of the flames 
That ranged around like tongues of fire, 
Again I saw you lean to me, 

O sweetheart of my heart’s desire! 



A LITTLE boy and girl sat beneath the 
cooling shade of a twisted old oak- 
k tree and dreamed the dreams that 
are the almost realities of childhood. A 
party of tourists waved at them, and they 
watched the big car with interest until- it 
disappeared into the dust and haze of the 
languorous midsummer noontime. 

“ I’d kinda like to go out there some- 
time,” the boy said dreamily. 

“ Out where?” 

“ Oh, out there.” The child waved a 
scrubby, brown little hand vaguely toward 
the distant hills. “ Out there— where the 
people’s goin’.” 

“ Huh! What’d you do if you did go 
there?” 

“ I’d kill Indians — that’s what I’d do,” 
the boy replied stoutly. 

“ Aw, I wouldn’t do that.” 

“Huh! You wouldn’t do anything. Why, 
you’re only a girl he crushed her with 
the scorn of his glance — “ what could vou 
do?” 

Her little pig-tails tossed as she flung up 
her head with a haughty gesture. 

“ Well,” she said, “ I guess I could be a 
princess or sump’n. I could — ” 

The boy interrupted her with a sudden 
exclamation of excitement. 

“ Oo-o, lookut! Lookut what I found,” 
he cried. 

From the side of the road he snatched a 
glittering, sparkling, brilliant diamond. A 


connoisseur of diamonds would have wept 
over it and fondled it like a human thing. 
A queen would have considered it a hand- 
some gift from the royal consort. An artist 
would have marveled at the brilliance and 
variety of the bluish-white coloring which 
danced to the rays of the summer sun. 

The little girl regarded the boy’s prize 
indifferently. 

“ Aw, what you so excited about?” she 
inquired. “ It ain’t nothin’ but glass.” 

A young man and girl strolled along the 
edge of the Milburn Country Club’s golf- 
course. The silence between them was not 
the easy, unconstrained silence of comrade- 
ship; the young man was embarrassed — a 
sort of anticipatory embarrassment; the girl 
seemed resignedly waiting his words; and 
she was just a little bored. 

“ I want to speak to you,” he began 
finally. “ It’s about something important.” 
“ I know what it is,” she interrupted 
quietly. There was no coldness, no hint of 
anger in her voice. Just indifference, resig- 
nation and a little annoyance. 

“ You know what?” the boy asked. 

“ I know that you’re going to ask me to 
marry you,” she informed him. 

“ Why — why, how’d you know that?” he 
asked incredulously. 

" My father spoke to me last night, too. 
Oh, our fathers have arranged everything 
perfectly for us, haven’t they?” 

454 


THE WORTH OF THE DIAMOND. 


455 


She sighed and added: “ It — it isn’t at 
all like I thought it was going to be.” 

The boy gazed at her in dazed surprise. 
“ I don’t understand,” he said. “ What 
isn’t like what it was going to be?” 

“ Getting engaged,” she replied. “ When 
I used to dream of being a princess I always 
thought of a prince who some day would 
come to me on a snow-white steed and — 
Oh, I know I’m awfully foolish, but I want 
romance. I’ve always wanted it. 

“ I don’t want to stay in Milburn where 
everything is cut to an ordered pattern. I 
want to go out into the world and search 
for the prince and romance. I—” 

“ Why, say,” the boy interrupted her 
excitedly, “ you’ve got the same ideas I 
have. I’m a nut about romance. I never 
told anybody about it before. It seemed 
kind of foolish, but just the same Don 
Quixote and Francois Villon, and all those 
romantic fellows were the chaps I liked best. 
In college I just ate ’em up. Why, I think 
romance is the greatest thing there is.” 

He stopped in sudden embarrassment at 
this impulsive revelation of his intimate 
feelings. 

“ Well,” he said ruefully, “ you certainly 
can’t find any romance in Milburn.” 

“ No,” the girl agreed with him, “ you 
can’t. And I’m going to tell you something. 
I’m not going to be cheated by staying in 
Milburn. I’m going out into the world and 
find my romance. I’m going right away. 

“ And — I think you ought to go, too. 
You’ll always be unhappy if you stay here 
and know that your dreams will never come 
true because you were afraid to venture.” 
The eager, determined resolution of the 
girl found instant sympathy reflected in the 
eyes of the boy. 

“ I will venture,” he said. 

“ Romance,” she whispered softly. “ It 
isn’t in Milburn. It’s out there somewhere.” 
The last faint rays of the setting sun had 
disappeared from the purpling sky and the 
fast-gathering twilight had driven the few 
remaining players from the course as they 
finally turned homeward. A long, contented 
silence of happy hopes, and only a few fears 
for the future was broken by the boy. 

“ We haven’t got any use for this now,” 
he indicated a ring which he had taken from 


his pocket. “ I had our lucky diamond we 
found as kids set into this ring. I was going 
to give it to you for our engagement.” 

The beautiful, cold blue brilliance of the 
exquisite stone was set in a circle of plain, 
dull gold. No satellites of pearls or sap- 
phire offered humble evidence to the per- 
fection of the diamond. 

The beauty of the ring evoked no re- 
sponse from her. 

“ Oh, well,” he said as he fingered the 
ring, “ I guess it isn’t much, anyway.” 

A man and a woman sat on a rustic bench 
in the garden of a beautiful estate on the 
Hudson. The man was a brilliant, widely 
known engineer who had just returned from 
a difficult job of construction, recently fin- 
ished in South America. The woman was a 
beautiful, accomplished actress of exquisite 
charm and grace. 

The soft light from an August moon at 
full filtered through the trees and gave silent 
battle to the dancing shadows. The mur- 
muring splash of a small fountain mingled 
with the lilting strains of a waltz carried by 
the soft night wind from the windows of the 
house through which the gliding forms of 
dancers could be seen. 

“ My dear,” the man said gently, “ I 
think we’ve come to the end of the circle. 
I want to announce our engagement to- 
night. You’re the princess and I’m the 
prince. We’ve found our romance after all 
these years of search, haven’t we?” 

The woman offered no answer except an 
affirmative pressure of the hand. 

“ I have a ring here I want to give 
you,” the man continued. “ I hope you will 
like it. It’s really a very wonderful bit of 
jewelry.” 

It was a ring of gold he offered — a ring 
set with a wonderful, priceless diamond 
caught in a design of changing, merging 
colors from hardly less brilliant jewels. 

“ Oh, my dear,” she said breathlessly, 
“ what a perfectly beautiful diamond. It’s 
certainly the most exquisite one I have ever 
seen ! ” 

“ It is a beautiful stone.” The man 
sighed a little sadly. “ And it’s the same 
diamond we had so many years ago; only 
now — it’s in a different setting.” 



g u£^, 

j James B. Hendry x: 

Author ol " The Texan,” " The Gun Brand,” " The One Big Thing,” etc. 


CHAPTER XXXI. 

TRUE COLORS. 

T HE girl’s first impulse was to turn 
and fly, but as if divining her 
thoughts, the man pushed nearer, 
and she saw that his eyes gleamed horribly 
between lids drawn to slits. 

Had he discovered that she had tricked 
him with a false claim? If not why the 
glare of hate, and the sneering smile, that 
told plainer than words that he had her 
completely in his power, and knew it. 

“ So, my fine lady— we meet again! We 
have much to talk about— you and I. But, 
first, about the claim. You thought you 
were very wise with your lying about not 
having a map. You thought to save the 
whole loaf for yourself— you thought I was 
fool enough to believe you. If you had let 
me in, you would have had half — now you 
have nothing. 

“ The claim is all staked and filed, and 
the adjoining claims for a mile are staked 
with the' stakes of my friends — and you 
have nothing! You were the fool! You 
couldn’t have won against me. Failing in 
my story of partnership with your father, 
I had intended to marry you, and failing 
in that, I should have taken the map by 
f orce — for I knew you carried it with you. 
But I dislike violence when the end may 
be gained by other means, so I waited until, 
at last, happened the thing I knew would 
happen — you became careless. You left 


your precious map and photograph in plain 
sight upon your little table — and now you 
have nothing.” 

So he had not discovered the deception. 
But, through accident or design, had seized 
this opportunity to gloat over her, and 
taunt her with her loss. His carefully as- 
sumed mask of suave courtliness had dis- 
appeared, and Patty realized that at last 
she was face to face with the real Bethune, 
a creature so mean that he boasted openly 
and with satisfaction of having stolen her 
secret, as though the fact redounded greatly 
to his credit. 

A sudden rage seized her. She touched 
her horse with a spur. “ Let me pass! ” 
she demanded, her lips white. 

The man’s answer was a sneering laugh, 
as he blocked her way: “ Ho! not so fast, 
my pretty! How about the Samuelson 
horse raid— your part in it? Three of my 
best men are in hell because you tipped off 
that raid to Vil Holland! How you found 
it out I do not know — but women, of a cer- 
tain kind, can find out anything from men. 
No doubt Clen, in some sweet secret meet- 
ing place, poured the story into your ear, 
although he denies it on his life.” 

“ What do you mean?” 

“Ha! Ha! Injured innocence!” He 
leered knowingly into her flashing eyes; 
“ It seems that everyone else knew what I 
did not. But I am of a forgiving nature. 
I will not see you starve. Leave the others 
and come to me — ” 


This story began in the All-Story Weekly for December 27. 

456 


THE GOLD GIRL. 


457 


“ You cur!” The words cut like the 
swish of a lash, and again the man laughed: 

“ Oh, not so fast, you hussy! I must 
admit it rather piqued me to be bested in 
the matter of a woman — and by a soul- 
puncher. I was on hand early that morn- 
ing, to spy upon your movements, as was 
my custom. I speak of the morning fol- 
lowing the night that the very Reverend 
Christie spent with you in your cabin. I 
should not have believed it, had I not seen 
his horse running unsaddled with your own. 
Also, later, I saw you come out of the cabin 
together. Then I damned myself for not 
having reached out before and taken what 
was there for me to take.” 

With a low cry of fury, the girl drove 
her spurs into her horse’s sides. The ani- 
mal leaned against Bethurie’s horse, forcing 
him aside. The quarter-breed reached 
swiftly for her bridle reins, and as he leaned 
forward with his arm outstretched, Patty 
summoned all her strength and, whirling 
her heavy braided rawhide quirt high above 
her head, brought it down with the full 
sweep of her muscular arm. 

The feel of the blow was good as it 
landed squarely upon the inflamed brutish 
face, and the shrill scream of pain that fol- 
lowed, sent a wild thrill of joy to the very 
heart of the girl. Again the lash swung 
high, this time to descend upon the flank 
of her horse, and before Bethune could re- 
cover himself, the frenzied animal shot up 
the valley, running with every ounce there 
was in him. 

The valley floor was fairly level, and a 
hundred yards away the girl shot a swift 
glance over her shoulder. Bethune’s horse 
was getting under way in frantic leaps that 
told of cruel spurring, and with her eyes 
to the front, she bent forward over the horn 
and slapped her horse’s neck with her gloved 
hand. She remembered with a quick gasp 
of relief that Bethune prided himself upon 
the fact that he never carried a gun. She 
had once taunted Vil Holland with the fact, 
and he had replied that “ Greasers and 
breeds were generally sneaking enough to 
be knife-men.” 

Again, she glanced over her shoulder and 
smiled grimly as she noted that the distance 
between the two flying horses had increased 


by half. “ Good old boy,” she whispered, 
“ You can beat him — can ‘ run rings around 
him’, as Vil would say. It would be a 
long knife that could harm me now,” she 
thought, as she pulled her Stetson tight 
against the sweep of the rushing wind. The 
ground was becoming more and more un- 
even. Loose rock fragments were strewn 
about in increasing numbers, and the valley 
was narrowing to an extent that necessitated 
frequent fording of the shallow creek. 

“ He can’t make any better time than I 
can,” muttered the girl, as she noted the 
slackening of her horse’s speed. She was 
riding on a loose rein, giving her horse his 
head, for she realized that to force him, 
might mean a misstep and a fall. She 
closed her eyes and shuddered at the 
thought of a fall. 

A thousand times better had she fallen 
and been pounded to a pulp by the flying 
hoofs of the horse herd, than to fall now — 
and survive it. 

The ascent became steeper. Her horse 
was still running, but very slowly. His 
neck and shoulders were reeking with sweat, 
and she could hear the labored breath 
pumping through his distended nostrils. 

A sudden fear shot through her. Nine 
valleys in every ten, she knew, ended in 
surmountable divides; and she knew, also, 
that every valley in every ten did not. 
Suppose this one that she had chosen at 
random terminated in a cul-de-sac? The 
way became steeper. Running was out of 
the question, and her horse was forging up- 
ward in a curious scrambling walk. A noise 
of clattering rocks sounded behind her, and 
Patty glanced backward straight into the 
face of Bethune. Reckless of a fall in the 
blind fury of his passion, the quarter-breed 
had forced his horse to his utmost and 
rapidly closed up the gap until scarcely 
ten yards separated him from the fleeing 
girl. 

In a frenzy of terror she lashed her labor- 
ing horse’s flanks as the animal dug and 
clawed like a cat at the loose rock footing 
of the steep ascent. White to the lips she 
searched the foreground for a ravine or a 
coulee that would afford a means of escape. 
But before her loomed only the ever steep- 
ening wall, its surface half concealed by the 


458 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


scattering scrub. Once more she looked 1 
backward. The breath was whistling 
through the blood-red flaring nostrils of 
Bethune’s horse, and her glance flew to the 
face of the man. Never in her wildest 
nightmares had she imagined the soul-curd- 
ling horror of that face. The lips writhed 
back in a hideous grin of hate. A long 
blue-red welt bisected the features obliquely 
— a welt from which red blood flowed freely 
at the corner of a swollen eye. White foam 
gathered upon the distorted lips and drooled 
down onto the chin where it mingled with 
the blood. The uninjured eye was a nar- 
row gleam of venom, and the breath swished 
through the man’s nostrils as from the strain 
of great physical labor. 

“Oh, for my gun!” thought the girl,* 
“ I’d — I’d kill him! ” With a wild scramble 
her horse went down. “ Vil 1 Vil!” she 
shrieked, in a frenzy of despair, and freeing 
herself from the floundering animal, she 
struggled to her feet and faced her pursuer 
with a sharp rock fragment upraised in her 
two hands. 

Monk Bethune laughed — as the fiends 
must laugh in hell. A laugh that struck a 
chill to the very heart of the girl. Her 
muscles went limp at the sound of it and 
she felt the strength ebbing from her body 
like sand from an upturned glass. The 
rock fragment became an insupportable 
weight. It crashed to the ground, and 
rolled clattering to Bethune’s feet. He, too, 
had dismounted and stood beside his horse, 
his fists slowly clenching and unclenching 
in gloating anticipation. 

Patty turned to run, but her limbs felt 
numb and heavy, and she pitched forward 
upon her knees. With a slow movement 
of his hand, Bethune wiped the pink foam 
from his chin, examined it, snapped it from 
his fingers, cleansed them upon the sleeve 
of his shirt — and again, deliberately, he 
laughed, and started to climb slowly for- 
ward. 

A rock slipped close beside the girl, and 
the next instant a voice sounded in her ear: 

“ I don’t reckon he’s ’round yere, miss. I 
hain’t saw Vil this mo’nin’.” Rifle in hand, 
Watts stepped from behind a scrub pine, 
and as his eyes fell upon Bethune, he stood 
fumbling his beard with uncertain fingers, 


“ He — he’ll kill me!” gasped the girl. 

“ Sho’, now, miss — he won’t hurt vo’ 
none, will yo’, Mr. Bethune? Gineral Jack- 
son! Mr. Bethune, look at yo’ face! Yo’ 
must of rode ag’in’ a limb!” 

“ Shut up and get out of here! ” screamed 
the quarter-breed. “ And if you know 
what’s good for you, you’ll forget that 
you’ve seen anyone this morning.” 

“ B’en layin’ up yere in the gap fer to 
git me a deer. I heer’d yo’ — all cornin’, 
like, so’s I waited.” 

“ Get out, I tell you, before 1 kill you!” 
cried Bethune, beside himself with rage. 
“ Go!” The man’s hand plunged beneath 
his shirt and came out with a glitter of 
steel. 

The mountaineer eyed the blade indiffer- 
ently, and turned to the girl. “ Ef yo’ goin’ 
my ways, ma’m, jest yo’ lead yo’ horse on 
ahaid. They’s a game trail runs slaunch- 
wavs up th’ough the gap yender. I’ll kind 
o’ 'f oiler ’long behind.” 

“You fool!” shrilled Bethune, as he 
made a grab for the girl’s reins, and the 
next instant found himself looking straight 
into the muzzle of Watts’s rifle. 

“ Drap them lines,” drawled the moun- 
taineer. “ Thet hain’t yo’ hoss. An’ what’s 
over an’ above, yo’ better put up yo’ whit- 
tle, an’ tu’n ’round an’ go back wher’ yo’ 
com’ from.” 

“ Low'er that gun!” commanded Bethune. 
“ It’s cocked! ” 

“ Yas, hit’s cocked, Mr. Bethune, an’ 
hit’s sot mighty light on the trigger. Ef 
I’d git a little scairt, er a little riled er my 
foot ’ud slip, yo’d have to be drug down to 
wher’ the diggin’s easy, an’ buried.” 
Bethune deliberately slipped the knife 
back into his shirt, and laughed: “ Oh, 
come, now', Watts, a joke’s a joke. I played 
a joke on Miss Sinclair to frighten her — ” 
“ Yo’ done shit, all right,” interrupted 
Watts. “ An’ that’s the end on’t.” 

The rifle muzzle still covered Bethune’s 
chest in the precise region of his heart, and 
once more he changed his tactics. “ Don’t 
be a fool, Watts,” he said, in an undertone. 
“ I’m rich — richer than you, or anyone else 
knows. I’ve located Rod Sinclair’s strike 
and filed it. If you just slip quietly off 
about your business, and forget that you 


THE GOLD GIRL. 


ever saw anyone here this morning — and 
see to it that you never remember it again, 
you’ll never have reason to regret it. I’ll 
make it right with you — I’ll file you next 
to discovery.” 

“ Yo’ mean,” asked Watts, slowly, 
thet you’ve stoled the mine offen Sin- 
clair’s darter, an’ filed hit yo’self, an’ thet 
ef I go ’way an’ let yo’ finish the job by 
murderin’ the gal, yo’ll give me some of the 
mine — is thet what yo’ tryin’ to git at?” 

“ Put it anyway you want to, damn you! 
Words don’t matter. But for God’s sake, 
get out! If she once gets through the 
gap—” 

“ Bethune,” Watts drawled the name, 
even more than was his wont, and the 
quarter-breed noticed that the usually rov- 
ing eyes had set into a hard stare behind 
which lurked a dangerous glitter, “ yo’re a 
ornery, low-down cur dog what hain't fitten 
to be run with by man, beast, or devil. I'd 
ort to shoot yo’ daid right wher' yo’ at— 
an’ mebbe I will. 

“ But cornin’ to squint yo’ over, that 
there damage looks mo’ like a quirt-lick 
than a limb. Thet ort to hurt like fire fer 
a couple o’ days, an’ when it lets up yo’ 
face hain’t a-goin’ to be so purty as what 
hit wus. Ef she’d just of drug the quirt 
along a little when hit landed she c'd of cut 
plumb in to the bone — but hit’s middlin’ 
fair, as hit stands. I’m a-goin’ to give yo’ 
a chanst — an’ a warmin’, too. 

“ Next time I see yo’ I’m a-goin’ to kill 
yo’ — whenever, or wherever hit’s at. I’ll do 
hit, jest as shore as my name is John Watts. 
Yo’ kin go now — back the way yo’ come, 
pervidin’ yo’ go fast. I’m a-goin’ to count 
up to wher’ I know how to — I hain’t never 
be’n to school none, but I counted up to 
nineteen, wunst — an’ whin I git to wher’ I 
cain’t rec’lec’ the nex’ figger, I’m a-goin’ 
to shoot, an’ shoot straight. An’ I hain’t 
a-goin’ to study long about them figgers, 
neither. Le’s see, ‘ one ’ comes fust — yere 
goes, then: One — two — ” 

For a single instant, Bethune gazed into 
the man’s eyes and the next, he sprang into 
the saddle, and dashing wildly down the 
steep slope, disappeared into the scrub. 

“ Spec’ I’d ort to kill him,” regretted the 
mountaineer, as he lowered the rifle, and 


459 

gazed off down the valley, “ but I hain’t 
got no appetite fer diggin’.” 


CHAPTER XXXII. 

PATTY MAKES HER STRIKE. 

I T was noon, one week from the day she 
had returned from the Samuelson ranch, 
and Patty Sinclair stood upon the high 
shoulder of a butte and looked down into a 
rock-rimmed valley. Her eyes roved slowly 
up and down the depression where the dark 
green of the scrub contrasted sharply with 
the crinkly buffalo grass, yellowed to spun 
gold beneath the rays of the summer sun. 

She reached up and stroked the neck of 
her horse! “ Just think, old partner, three 
days from now I may be teaching school in 
that horrid little town with its ratty hotel, 
and its picture shows, and its saloons, and 
you may be turned out in the pasture with 
nothing to do but eat and grow fat! If we 
don’t find our claim to-day, or to-morrow, 
it’s good-by hill-country ’til next summer.” 
The day following her encounter with 
Bethune, Vil Holland had appeared, true to 
his promise, and instructed her in the use 
of her father’s six-gun. At the end of an 
hour’s practice, she had been able to kick 
up the dirt in close proximity to a tomato 
can at fifteen steps, and twice she had ac- 
tually hit it. “ That’s good enough for any 
use you’re apt to have for it,” her instructor 
had approved. “ The main thing is that 
you ain’t afraid of it. An’ remember,” he 
added, tl a gun ain’t made to bluff with. 
Don’t pull it on anyone unless you go 
through with it. Only short-horns, an’ pil- 
grims ever pull a gun that don’t need wipin’ 
before it’s put back— I could show you the 
graves of several of ’em. 

“ I’m leavin’ you some extry shells that 
you can shoot up the scenery with. Always 
pick out somethin’ little to shoot at — start 
in with tin cans and work down to match- 
sticks. When you can break six match-sticks 
with six shots at ten steps in ten seconds 
folks will call you handy with the gun.” 

He had made no mention of his trip to 
town, of his filing a homestead, or of their 
conversation upon the top of Lost Creek 
divide. When the lesson was finished, he 


460 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


had refused Patty’s invitation to supper, 
mounted his horse, and disappeared up the 
ravine that led to the notch in the hills. 
Although neither had mentioned it, Patty 
somehow felt that he had heard from Watts 
of her encounter with Bethune. And now 
a week had passed and she had seen neither 
Vil Holland nor the quarter-breed. It had 
been a week of anxiety and hard work for 
the girl who had devoted almost every hour 
of daylight to the unravelling of her father’s 
map. Simple as the directions seemed, her 
inability to estimate distances had proven a 
serious handicap. But by dogged persever- 
ance, and much retracing of steps, and cor- 
recting of false leads, she finally stood upon 
the rim of the valley she judged to lie two 
miles east of the hump-backed butte that 
she had figured to be the inverted U of her 
father’s map. 

“If this isn’t the valley, I’m through for 
this year,” she said. “ And I’ve got today 
and tomorrow to explore it.” She wondered 
at her indifference — at her strange lack of 
excitement at this, the crucial moment of 
her long quest; even as she had wondered 
at her absence of fear, believing as she did, 
that Bethune was still in the hills. 

The feeling inspired by the outlaw had 
been a feeling of rage, rather than terror, 
and had rapidly crystalized in her outraged 
mind into an abysmal soul-hate. She knew 
that, should the man accost her again, she 
would "kill him— and not for a single instant 
did she doubt her ability to kill him. Vague- 
ly, as she stood looking out over the valley, 
she wondered if he were following her — if 
at that moment he were lying concealed, 
somewhere among the surrounding rocks or 
patches of scrub? 

Yet, she was conscious of no feeling of 
fear. She even attempted no concealment 
as, standing there upon the bare rock, she 
drew her father’s map and photographs 
from her pocket and subjected them to a 
long and minute scrutiny. And then, still 
holding them in her hand, gazed once more 
over the valley. “ To a, to b,” she repeated. 
“ What is there that Daddy would have 
designated as a, and b?” Suddenly, her 
glance became fixed upon a point up the 
valley that lay just within her range of 
vision. With puckered eyes and hat-brim 


drawn low over her forehead, she stared 
steadily into the distance. She knew that 
she had never before seen this valley, and 
yet the place seemed, somehow, familiar. 

With a low cry she bent over one of the. , 
photographs. Her hands trembled violently j 
as her eyes once more flew to the valley.’ j 
Yes, there it was, spread out before her just ] 
the way it was in the photograph — the rock- j 
strewn ground— she could even identify the-i 
various rocks with the rocks in the picture. 1 
There was the lone tree, and the long rock-.-j 
wall, higher at its upper end, and — yes, she 
could just discern it — the ziazag crack in 
the rock -ledge! 

jamming the papers into her pocket she 
leaped into the saddle and dashed toward a 
fringe of scrub that marked the course of a 
coulee which led downward into the valley. 
Over its ledge, and down its brush-choked 
course, slipping, sliding, scrambling, she 
urged her horse reckless of safety, reckless 
of anything except that her weary, and at 
times it had seemed, her hopeless search, 
was about to end. She had stood where her 
daddy had stood when he took that photo- 
graph — had seen with her own eyes — the 
jagged crack in the rock- wall! 

In the valley the going was better, and 
with quirt and spur she urged her horse to 
his best, her eyes on the lone pine tree. At 
the rock-wall beyond, she pulled up sharply 
and stared at the jagged crevice that bi- 
sected it from top to bottom. It was the 
crevice of the photograph! Very deliber- 
ately she began at the top and traced its 
course to the bottom. She noted the scrag- 
gly, stunted pines that fringed the rim of 
the wall and that the crack started straight, 
and then zigzagged to the ground. Pro- 
ducing the “ close up ” photograph, she 
compared it with the reality before her — an 
entirely superfluous and needless act, for 
each minute detail of the spot at which she 
stared was indelibly engraved upon her 
memory. For hours on end, she had studied 
those photographs, and now — she laughed 
aloud, and the sound roused her to action. 
Slipping from the horse, she fumbled at the 
pack-strings of the saddle and loosened the 
canvas bag. She reached into it, and stood 
erect holding a light hand-axe. Once more 
she consulted her map. 


THE GOLD GIRL. 


“ Stake 1. c.,” she read. “ That’s load 
claim — and then that funny wiggly mark, 
and then the word center.” Her brows 
drew together as she studied the ground. 
Suddenly her face brightened. “ Why, of 
course!” she exclaimed. “ That mark repre- 
sents the crack, and daddy meant to stake 
the claim with the crack for the other. 
Well, here goes!” She vehemently attacked 
a young sapling, and ten minutes later, 
viewed with pride her four roughly hacked 
stakes. Picking up one of them and the 
axe, she paced off her distance, and as she 
reached the first corner point, stared in sur- 
prise at the ground. The claim had already 
been staked! Eagerly she stooped to ex- 
amine the bit of wood. It had evidently 
been in place for some time — how long, the 
girl could riot tell. Long enough, though, 
for its surface to have become weather- 
greyed and discolored. 

“ Daddy’s stakes,” she breathed softly, 
and as her fingers strayed over the surface 
two big tears welled into her eyes and 
trickled unheeded down her cheeks. “ If 
he staked the claim, I wonder why he didn’t 
file,” she puzzled over the matter for a 
moment, and dismissed it, “ I don’t know 
why. But, anyway, the thing for me to 
do is to get in my own stakes — only, I’ll 
file when I get to the register’s office.” 

After considerable difficulty, she succeed- 
ed in planting her own stake close beside the 
other, which marked the southwest corner 
of the claim, a short time later the north- 
west corner was staked, and the girl stared 
again at the rock- wall. 

“ Why, I’ve got to put in my eastern 
boundary stakes up on top — three hundred 
feet back from the edge,” she exclaimed. 
“ Maybe I’ll find his notice, on one of 
those stakes.” It required only a moment 
to locate a ravine that led to the top of the 
ledge which was not nearly so high as the 
one that formed the opposite side of the 
valley. She found the old stakes, but no 
sign of a notice. “ The wind, and the 
snow, and the rain have destroyed it long 
ago,” she muttered. “ And now for my own 
notice.” 

Producing from her bag a pencil and a 
piece of paper, she wrote her description 
and affixed it to a stake by means of a bit 


461 

/ 

of wire. Then, descending once more into 
the valley, she produced her luncheon and 
threw herself down beside the little creek. 
It was midafternoon, and she suddenly 
discovered that she was ravenously hungry. 
With her back against a rock fragment, 
she sat and feasted her eyes upon her claim 
— hers — her si Her thoughts flew back- 
ward to the enthusiasm of her father over 
this very claim. She remembered how his 
eyes had lighted as he told her of its hid- 
den treasure. She remembered the jibes, 
and doubts, and covert sneers of the Mid- 
dleton people, her father’s death, her own 
anger and revolt., when she had suddenly 
decided, in the face of their counsel, en- 
treaties, and commands, to take up his 
work where he had left it. 

With kaleidoscopic rapidity her thoughts 
flew over the events of the ensuing months 
— the meeting with Vil Holland, her disap- 
pointment in the Watts ranch, her eager 
acceptance of the Sheep Camp, the long 
weary weeks of patiently riding along rock 
walls, taking each valley in turn, the grow- 
ing fear of running out of funds before she 
could locate the claim. She shuddered as 
she thought of Monk Bethune, and of how 
nearly she had fallen a victim to his 
machinations. Her thoughts returned to 
Vil Holland, her “guardian devil of the 
hills,” who had turned out to be in reality 
a guardian angel in disguise. 

“ Very much in disguise,” she smiled, 
“with his jug of whiskey.” Nobody who 
had helped make up her little world of peo- 
ple in the hill -country was forgotten; the 
Thompsons, the Samuelsons. the Wattses 
• — she thought of them all. “ Why, I — I love 
every one of them,” she cried, as though 
the discovery surprised her. “ They’re all, 
every one of them, real friends — they’re not 
like the others, the smug, sleek, best citizens 
of Middleton. And I’ll not forget one of 

them. We’ll file that whole vein from one 
end to the other!” 

Catching up her horse, she mounted, and 
sat for a moment irresolute. “ I could make 
town some time to-night,” she mused, and 

then, her eyes rested for a moment upon her 
horse’s neck where the white alkali dust lay 
upon the rough, sweat-dried hair. “ No,” 
she decided, “ We’ll go back to the cabin. 


462 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


“ Mr. Christie was right,” she smiled, 
as she took the back trail for Monte’s 
Creek, “ I don’t have to teach school. But, 
I wonder how he could have gotten that 
' hunch,’ as he called it? When I’ve been 
searching for the claim for months?” 

In a little valley that ran parallel to 
Monte’s Creek, Patty encountered Microby 
Dan deline. The girl was lying stretched 
at full length upon the ground and did not 
notice her approach until she was almost on 
her, then she leaped to her feet, regarded 
her for a moment and, with a frightened 
cry, sprang into the bush and scrambled 
out of sight along the steep side of a ravine. 
In vain Patty called, but her only answer 
was the diminishing sounds of the girl’s 
scrambling flight. “ What in the world 
has got into her of late,” she wondered, as 
she proceeded on her way. Certain it was 
that the girl avoided her, not only at the 
Watts ranch, but whenever they had 
chanced to meet in the hills. 

At first she had attributed it to anger 
or resentment over her own treatment of 
her when she had tried to get possession 
of the map. But, surely, even the dull- 
witted Micioby must know that the incident 
had been forgotten. “ No,” she decided, 
“ there is something else.” Somehow, the 
girl no longer seemed the simple childlike 
creature of the wild. There was a fur- 
tiveneSs about her, and she had developed 
a certain crafty side glance, as though con- 
stantly seeking a means of escape from 
something. Her mother had noticed the 
change, and had confided to Patty that she 
was “ gittin’ mo’ triflin’ every day, a roam- 
min’ ’round the hills a huntin’ her a mine.” 
“ There’s something worrying her,” mut- 
tered the girl. “ Something that she don’t 
dare tell any one, and it’s sapping what 
little wit she has.” 


CHAPTER XXXIII. 

THE SPECTER OF THE JUG. 

I I' was late that evening when Patty ate 
her solitary supper. The sun had long 
set, and the dusk of the late twilight had 
settled upon the valley of Monte’s Creek 
as she wiped the last dish and set it upon 


the shelf of her tiny cupboard. Suddenly 
she looked up. A form darkened the door- 
way, and quick as a flash, her eyes sought 
the six-gun that lay in its holster upon the 
bunk. 

“ You won’t need that.” The voice was 
reassuring. It was Vil Holland’s voice. 
She had recognized him, a. second before he 
spoke, and greeted him with a smile, even 
as she wondered what had brought him 
there. Only three times before, had he 
come to her cabin; once to ascertain who 
was moving into the Sheep Camp, once 
when lie had pitched Lord Clendenning 
into the creek, and again, only a few days 
before, when he had come to teach her to 
shoot. The girl noted that he seemed 
graver than usual, if that were possible. 
Certain it was that he appeared to be hold- 
ing himself under restraint. She wondered 
if he had come to warn her of the proxim- 
ity of Bethune. 

“ I was in town, to-day,” he came di- 
rectly to the point. “ An’ Len Christie told 
me you’re goin’ to teach school. v He 
paused and his eyes rested upon her face as 
if seeking confirmation. 

Patty laughed, she could afford to laugh 
now that the necessity for teaching did not 
exist. “ I asked him if he could find a 
school for me some time ago,” she replied, 
trying to fathom what was in his mind. 

There was a moment of silence, during 
which Patty saw the man’s fingers tighten 
upon his bat brim. “ I don’t want you to 
do that. It ain’t fit work— for you— teach- 
in’ other folks kids.” 

Patty stared at him in surprise. The 
words had come slowly, and at their con- 
clusion he had paused. “ Maybe you could 
suggest some work that is more fit?” 

The man ignored the hint of sarcasm. 
“ Yes — I think I can.” His head was 
slightly bowed, and Patty saw that it was 
with an effort he continued: “ That is, I 
don’t know if I can make you see it like 
I do. It’s awful real to me — an’ plain. 
Miss Sinclair, I can’t make any fine 
speeches like they do in books. I wouldn’t, 
if I could — it ain’t my way. I love you 
more than I could tell you if I knew all 
the words in the language, an’ how to fit ’em 
together. I loved you that day I first saw 


THE GOLD GIRL. 


463 


you — back there on the divide at Lost 
Creek. You was afraid of me, an’ you 
wouldn’t show it, an’ you wouldn’t own 
up that you was lost — ’til I’d made the play 
of goin’ off an’ leavin’ you. An’ I’ve loved 
you every minute since — an’ every minute 
since, I’ve fought against lovin’ you. But. 
it’s no use. The more I fight it. the 
stronger it gets. It’s stronger than I am. 

I can’t down it. It’s the first time in my 
life I ever ran up against anything I 
couldn’t whip.” 

Again he paused. Patty advanced a step, 
and her eyes glowed softly as they rested 
upon the form that stood in her doorway 
silhouetted against the afterglow. She saw 
Buck rub his velvet nose affectionately up 
and down the man’s sleeve, and into her 
heart leaped a great longing for this man 
who, with the unconscious dignity of the 
vast open places upon him. had told her so 
earnestly of his love. She opened her lips ■ 
to speak, but there was a great lump in her 
throat, and no words came. 

“ That’s why,” he continued. “ I know it 
ain’t just a flash in the pan — this love of 
mine ain’t. All summer I’ve watched you. 
an’ the hardest thing I ever had to do was to 
set back an’ let you play a lone hand 
against the worst devil that ever showed 
his face in the hills. But the way things 
stacked up, I had to. You had me sized up 
for the one that was campin' on your trail, 
an’ anything I’d have done would have 
played into Bethune’s hand. I know I ain’t 
fit for you — no man is. But, I’ll always do 
the best I know how by you — an’ I’ll al- 
ways love you. As for the rest of it, I 
never saved any money. I know there’s 
gold here in the hills, an’ I’ve spent years 
huntin’ it. I’ll find it, too — some time. 

“ But, I ain’t exactly a pauper, either. 
I’ve got my two hands, an’ I’ve got a con- 
tract with old man Samuelson to winter his 
cattle. I didn’t want to do it first, but the 
figure he named was about twice what I 
thought the job was worth. I told him so 
right out, an’ he kind of laughed an’ said 
maybe I’d need it all, an’ anyhow, them 
cattle was all grade Herefords, an’ was 
worth more to winter than common dogies. 
So, you see, we could winter through, all 
right, an’ next summer, we could prospect 


together. The gold’s here, sure enough, 
somewhere — your dad knew it — an’ I know 
it.” 

Receiving no answering pat, the buckskin 
left off his nuzzling of the man’s sleeve, 
and turned from the doorway. As he did so 
the brown leather jug scraped lightly 
against the jamb. The girl’s eyes flew to 
the jug, and swiftly back to the man who 
stood framed in the doorway. 

She loved him! For days and days she 
had known that she loved him, and for days 
and nights her thoughts had been mostly of 
him — this .unsmiling knight of the saddle — 
her “ guardian devil of the hills.” 

Without exception, the people whose re- 
gard was worth having respected him, and 
liked him, even though they deplored his 
refusal to accept steady work. They’re 
just like the people back home, she thought. 
They have no imagination. To their minds 
the cow-puncher who draws his forty dol- 
lars a month, year in and year out, is, in 
some manner, more dependable than the 
man whose imagination, and love of the 
boundless open, leads him to stake his time 
against millions. What do they know of the 
joys and the despairs of uncertainty? In 
a measure they, too, love the plains and the 
hills — but their love of the open is in- 
extricably interwoven with their precon- 
ceived ideas of conduct. But, Vil Holland 
is bound by no such conventions. His 
“ outfit,” a pack-horse to carry it, and his 
home — all outdoors! Her father had 
imagination, and year after year, in the face 
of the taunts and jibes of his small-town 
neighbors, he had steadfastly allowed his 
imagination full sway, and at last — he had 
won. She had adored her father, from 
whom she had inherited her love of the 
wild. 

But — there was the jug! Always her 
thoughts ot him had led up to that brown 
leather jug, until she had come to hate it 
with an unreasoning hatred. 

“ I see you have not forgotten your jug.” 

“ No, I got it filled in town.” The man’s 
reply was casual, as he would have men- 
tioned his gloves, or his hat. 

“ You said you had never run up against 
anything you couldn’t whip, except — ex- 
cept — ” 


464 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


Yes, except my love l'or you. That’s 
right — an’ I never expect to.” 

“ How about that jug? Can you whip 
that?” 

“ Why, yes, I could. If there was any 
need. I never tried it.” 

“ Suppose you try it, for a while, and 
see.” 

The man regarded her seriously: “ You 
mean, if I leave off packin’ that jug, 
you’ll — ” 

“ I haven’t promised anything.” The 
girl laughed a trifle nervously. “ But, I will 
tell you this much. 1 utterly despise a 
drunkard! ” 

Yil Holland nodded slowly. “ Let’s get 
the straight of it,” he said. “ I didn’t know 
— I didn’t realize it was really hurtin’ me 
any. Can you see that it does? Have I 
ever done anything, that you know of, or 
have heard tell of, that a sober man 
wouldn’t do?” 

The girl felt her anger rising: “ Nobody 
can drink as much as you do, and not be the 
worse for it. Don’t try to defend your- 
self.” 

“ No, i wouldn’t do that. You see, if 
it’s hurtin' me, there wouldn’t be any de- 
fense — an’ if it ain’t, I don’t need any.” 

For an instant Patty regarded the man 
who stood framed in the doorway. “ Clean- 
blooded,” the doctor had called him, and 
clean-blooded he looked — the very picture 
of health and rugged strength, dear of eye 
and firm of jaw, not one slightest hint or 
mark of the toper could she detect, and the 
realization that this was so, angered her 
the more. 

Abruptly, she changed the subject, and 
the moment the brown leather jug was 
banished from her mind, her anger sub- 
sided. In the doorway, Vil Holland noted 
the undercurrent of suppressed excitement 
in her voice as she said: “ I have the most 
wonderful news! 1—7 found' daddy’s 
mine!" Seconds passed as the man stood 
waiting for her to proceed. “ I found it 
to-day,” she continued, without noting that 
his lean brown hand gripped the hat brim 
even more tightly than before, nor that his 
.lips were pressed into a thin straight line. 
“ And my stakes are all in, and in the morn- 
ing I’m going to file.” 


Vil Holland interrupted: “ You — you say 
you located Rod Sinclair’s strike? You 
really located it?” Somehow, his voice 
sounded different. 

The girl sensed the change without de- 
fining it. “Yes, I really found it!” she 
answered. “ Do you want to know where?” 
Hastily she turned to the cupboard and tak- 
ing a match from a box, lighted the lamp. 
“ You see,” she laughed, “ I am not afraid 
to trust you. I’m going to show you 
daddy’s map, and his photographs, and the 
samples. Oh, if you knew how I’ve hunted 
and hunted through these hills for that 
rock-wall! You see, the map was like so 
much Greek to me, until I happened by 
accident to learn how to read it. Before 
that, I just rode up and down the valleys 
hunting for the wall with the broad, 
crooked crack in it. Here it is.” 

The man had advanced to the table, and 
was bending over the two photographs, ex- 
amining them minutely. “ And here’s his 
map.” He picked up the paper and for 
several minutes studied the penciled direc- 
tions. Then he laid it down, and turned 
his attention to the samples. 

“ High grade,” he appraised, and re- 
turned them to the table beside the photo- 
graphs. “ So you don’t have to teach 
school,” he said, speaking more to himself 
than to her. “ An’ you’ll be goin’ out of the 
hill-country for good an’ all. There’s 
nothin’ here for you, now that you’ve got 
what yorf come after. You’ll be goin’ back 
—East.” 

Patty laughed, and as Vil Holland looked 
into her face he saw that her eyes held 
dancing lights. “ I’m not going back East,” 
she said. “ I’ve learned to love — the hill- 
country. I have learned that — perhaps — 
there is more here for me than even daddy’s 
mine.” 

Vil Holland shook his head. “ There’s 
nothin’ for you in the hills,” he repeated, 
slowly. And abruptly extending his hand: 
“ I’m glad for your sake, your luck 
changed, Miss Sinclair. I hope the gold 
you take cut of there will bring you happi- 
ness. You’ve earned it — every cent of it, 
an’ you’ve got it, an’ now, as far as the hill- 
country goes — the books are closed. Good 
night, I must be goin’, now.” 


THE GOLD GIRL. 


465 


Abruptly as he had offered his hand, he 
withdrew it, and turning, stepped through 
the door, mounted his horse, and rode out 
into the night. 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 

THE RACE FOR THE REGISTER. 

B ESIDE the little table Patty Sinclair 
listened to the sound of hoofs splash- 
ing through the shallows of the creek, 
and thudding dully upon the floor of the 
valley beyond. 

When tire sounds told her that the horse- 
man had disappeared into the timber, she 
walked slowly to the door, and leaning her 
arm against the jamb, stared for a long time 
into the black sweep of woods that con- 
cealed the trail that led upward to the 
notch in the hills, just discernible against 
the sky where the stars showed through the 
last faint blush of afterglow in winking 
points of gold. 

“Nothing here for me,’’ she. repeated 
dully. “ Nothing but trees, and hills — and 
gold. He loves me,” she laughed bitterly, 
“ and yet, between me and his jug, he 
chose — the jug.” She closed the door, 
slipped the bar into place, thrust the pho- 
tographs and map into her pocket, and 
threw herself face downward upon the 
bunk. 

In the edge of the timber, Vil Holland 
turned his horse slowly about and headed 
him up the ravine. At the notch in the 
hills he slipped to the ground and, throw- 
ing an arm across the saddle, removed his 
Stetson and let the night wind ripple his 
hair. Standing alone in the night with his 
soul-hurt, he gazed far downward where 
a tiny square of yello.w light marked the 
window of the cabin. 

“ It’s hell — the way things work out,” he 
said thoughtfully. “ Yes, sir, Buck, it sure 
is hell. If Len had told me a week ago 
about her havin’ to teach school, or even 
yesterday — she might have — But now — 
she’s rich. An’ that cracked-rock claim 
turnin’ out to be hers — ” He swung 
abruptly into the saddle and headed the 
buckskin for camp. 

Patty spent a miserable night. Brief 

10 A-S 


periods of sleep were interspersed with long 
periods of wakefulness in which her brain 
traveled wearily over and over a long, long 
trail that ended always at a brown leather 
jug that swung by a strap from a saddle- 
horn. She had found her father’s claim — - 
had accomplished the thing she had started 
out to accomplish — had vindicated her 
father’s judgment in the eyes of the people 
back home — had circumvented the machi- 
nations of Bethune, and in all probability, 
the moment she recorded her claim would 
be the possessor of more gold than she 
could possibly spend. 

But in the achievement there was no joy. 
There was a dull hurt in her heart, and the 
future stretched away, uninviting, heart- 
sickening, interminable. The world looked 
drab. 

j She ate her breakfast by lamplight, and 
as objects began to take form in the pearly 
light of the new day, she saddled her horse 
and rode up the trail to the notch in the 
hills — the trail that was a short cut, and 
that would carry her past Vil Holland’s lit- 
tle white tent, nestling close beside its big 
rock at the edge of the little plateau. “ He 
will still be asleep, and I can take one more 
look at the far snow mountains from the 
spot that might have been the porch of — < 
our cabin.” 

Carefully keeping to the damp ground 
that bordered the little creek, she worked 
her way around the huge rock, and drew 
up in amazement. The little white tent was 
gone ! Hastily, her eyes swept the plateau. 
The buckskin was gone, and the saddle was 
not hanging by its stirrup from its accus- 
tomed limb-stub. Crossing the creek, the 
girl stared at the row of packs, the blanket 
roll, and the neat tarpaulin-covered bun- 
dles that were ranged along the base of the 
rock. 

“ He has gone,” she murmured, as if 
trying to grasp the fact and then, again: 
“ He has gone.” Slowly, her eyes raised 
to the high-flung peaks that reared their 
snowy heads against the blue. And as she 
looked, the words of Vil Holland formed 
themselves in her brain: “ If there ain’t any 
‘ we,’ there won’t be any cabin— so there’s 
nothing to worry about.” 

“ Nothing to worry about,” she repeated. 


466 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


bitterly, and touching her horse with a spur, 
rode out across the plateau toward the head 
of a coulee that led to the trail for town. 
“ Where has he gone?” she wondered, and 
pulled up sharply as her horse entered the 
coulee. Riding slowly down the trail ahead, 
mounted on the meditative Gee Dot, was 
Microby Dandeline. Urging her horse for- 
ward Patty gained her side, and realizing 
that escape was hopeless, the girl stared 
sullenly without speaking. 

“Why, Microby!” she smiled, ignoring 
the sullen stare, “ you’re miles from home, 
and it’s hardly daylight! Where in the 
world are you going?” 

“ Hain’t a goin’ nowher’. I’m prospect- 
in’.” 

“ Where’s Vil Holland, have you seen 
him?” 

The girl nodded: “ He’s done gone to 
town. He’s mad, an’ he roden fas’ as Buck 
kin run, an’ he says: ‘ I’m gonna file one 
more claim, an’ to hell with the hill-coun- 
try. Tell yo’ dad good-by!”’ 

Patty sat for an instant as one stunned. 
“ Gone to town! Mad! File one more 
claim!” What did it mean? Why was 
Vil Holland riding to town as fast as his 
horse could run? And what claim was he 
going to file? He had mentioned no claim 
— and if he had just made a strike, surely 
he would have mentioned it — last night. 
She knew that he already had a claim, and 
that he considered it worthless. He told her 
once that he hadn’t even bothered to work 
out the assessments — it was no good. 

Was it possible that he was riding to file 
her claim? Was he no better than 
Bethune— only shrewder, more patient, 
richer in imagination? 

With a swish the quirt descended upon 
her horse’s flanks. The animal shot for- 
ward and, leaving Microby Dandeline star- 
ing open-mouthed, horse and rider dashed 
headlong down the coulee. Into the long 
white trail they swept, through the canon, 
and out among the foot-hills toward 
Thompson’s “ Why did I show him the 
map, and the pictures? .Why did I trust 
him? Why did I trust anybody? I see it 
all, now! His continual spying, and his 
plausible explanation that he was watching 
Bethune. He asked me to marry him, and 


when, like the poor little fool I was, I 
showed him the location, he was only too 
glad to get the mine without being saddled 
with me.” 

If Vil Holland reached town first — well, 
she could teach school. Scalding tears 
blinded her as with quirt and spur she 
crowded her horse to his utmost. Only one 
slender hope remained. With Thompson’s 
fresh horse, Lightning, she might yet win 
the race. The chance was slim, but she 
would take it! Her own horse was labor- 
ing heavily, a solid lather of sweat, as his 
feet pounded the trail that wound white and 
hot through the foot-hills. “ It’s your last 
hard ride,” she sobbed into his ear as she 
urged him on, “ win or lose, boy, it’s your 
last hard ride — and we’ve got to make it!” 
She whirled into Thompson’s lane and, 
in the dooryard, threw herself from her 
horse almost into the arms of the big ranch- 
man, who stared at her in surprise: “ Must 
be somethin’s busted loose in the hills, that 
folks is all takin’ to the open!” he ex- 
claimed. 

“ Where’s Lightning?” cried the girl. 
“Quick! I want him!” 

“ Lightnin’?” repeated Thompson. “ Why 
Lightnin’s gone — Vil Holland come along 
an hour or so ago, an’ rode him on to town. 
Turned Buck into the corral, yonder — he 
was rode down almost as bad as yourn.” 
Patty’s brain reeled dizzily as from a 
blow. Lightning gone! Her one slim 
chance of saving her mine had vanished in a 
breath. She felt suddenly weak, and sick, 
and leaning against her saddle for support, 
she closed her eyes and buried her face in 
her arm. 

“ What’s the matter, miss? Somethin’ 
wrong?” 

The girl laughed, a dry, hard laugh, 
and raising her head, looked into the man’s 
face. “Oh, no!” she said. “Nothing’s 
wrong — nothing except that I’ve lost my 
father’s claim — lost it because I relied on 
your horse to carry me into town in time 
to file ahead of him.” 

“ Lost yer pa’s claim?” cried Thompson. 
“ What do you mean — lost? Has that 
devil dared to show his face after the horse 
raid?” He paused suddenly, and smiled. 
“ Now don’t you go worryin’ about that 


THE GOLD GIRL. 


467 


there claim. Vil Holland’s on the job! I 
knowed there was somethin’ in the wind 
when he come a larrupin’ in here an’ jerked 
his kak offen Buck an’ throw’d it on Light- 
nin' without hardly a word. Vil, he’ll head 
him! An’ when he does, Bethune’ll be 
lucky if he lives long enough to git hung!” 
“ Bethune! Bethune!” cried the girl bit- 
terly. “ Bethune’s got nothing to do with 
it! It’s Vil Holland himself that’s going to 
file my claim. Have you got another horse 
here?” she cried. “ If you have, I want him. 
I’m not beaten yet! There’s still a chance! 
Maybe Lightning will go down or some- 
thing. Quick — change my saddle!” 

Catching up a rope, Thompson ran to the 
corral and throwing his loop over the head 
of a horse led him out and transferred the 
girl’s saddle and bridle. 

“ I don’t git the straight of it,” he said, 
eying her with a puzzled frown. “ But if 
Jt’s a question of gittin’ to town before Vil 
Holland kin beat you out of yer claim — 
you’ve got plenty of time — if you walk.” 
Patty shot the man one glance of wither- 
ing scorn. “ You’re all crazy! You’re hyp- 
notized! Everybody thinks he’s a saint — ” 
Thompson grinned. “ No, miss, Vil ain’t 
no saint — an’ he ain’t no devil — neither. 
But somewheres between the two of them 
is the place where good men fits in — an’ 
that’s Vil. You’re all het up needless, an’ 
barkin’ up the wrong tree, as folks used to 
say back where 1 come from. Just come 
and have a talk with Miz T. She’ll 
straighten you around all right. I’ll slip in 
an’ tell her to set the coffee-pot on, an’ you 
kin take yer time about gittin’ to town.” 
Thompson disappeared into the kitchen, 
and a moment later when he returned with 
his wife, the two stared in amazement at 
the flying figure that was just swinging 
from the lane into the long white trail. 


CHAPTER XXXV. 

VIL AND PATTY GO TO CHURCH. 

H OURS later the girl crossed the 
Mosquito Flats, forded the river, 
and passed along the sandy street of 
the town. Her eyes felt hot and tired from 
continual straining ahead in a vain effort 


to catch a glimpse of a fallen horse, whose 
rider must continue his way on foot. But 
the plain was deserted, and the only evi- 
dence that any one had proceeded her, was 
an occasional glimpse of hoof-prints in the 
white dust of the trail. 

A short distance up the street, standing 
“ tied to the ground,” before the hitch- 
ing rail of a little false-front saloon, stood 
Lightning. Patty noted as she passed that 
he showed signs of hard riding, and that 
the inevitable jug dangled motionless from 
the saddle-horn. Her lips stiffened, and her 
hand tightened on the bridle reins, as she 
forced her eyes to the front. 

Farther on, she could see the little white- 
painted frame office of the register. She 
would pass it by — no use for her to go there. 
She must find Len Christie and tell him 
she had come to teach his school. A great 
wave of repugnance swept over her, engulf- 
ing her, as her eyes traveled over the rows 
of small wooden houses with their stiff, un- 
comfortable porches, their hideous yards, 
and their flaunting paintiness. 

“ And to think that I’ve got to live in 
one of them! ” she murmured dully. “ Noth- 
ing could be worse — except the hotel.” 
Opposite the register’s office she pulled 
up, anti gazed in fascination at the open 
door. Then deliberately she reined her 
horse to the sidewalk and dismounted. The 
characteristic thoroughness that had marked 
the progress of her search for her father's 
claim, and had impelled her to return to 
the false claim and procure the notice, and 
that very morning had prompted her to ride 
against the slender chance of Vil Plolland’s 
meeting with a mishap, impelled her now 
to read for herself the entry of her father’s 
strike. 

The register shoved his black skull-cap 
a trifle back upon his shiny head, adjusted 
his thick eye-glasses, and smiled into the 
face of the girl: “ Things must be lookin’ up 
out in the hills,” he hazarded, “ you’re the 
second one to-day and it ain’t noon yet.” 

“ I presume Mr. Holland has been here.” 
Yes, Vil came in. I guess he’s around 
somewheres. He — ” 

“ Relinquished one claim, and filed an- 
other?” 

“ That’s just what he done.” 


468 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


Patty nodded wearily. She was gamely 
trying to appear distinterested. ' 

“ Did you want to file?” asked the man. 
whirling a large book about, and pushing it 
toward her. “ Just enter your description 
there, an’ fill out the application fer a 
patent, an’ file your field notes, and plat.” 

The girl’s glance strayed listlessly over 
the adjoining page, her eyes mechanically 
taking in the words. Suddenly she became 
intensely alert. She leaned over the book 
and reread with feverish interest the writ- 
ten description. The location was filed in 
Vil Holland’s name — but, the description 
was not of her claim! 

“Where — where is this claim?” she 
gasped. 

The old register turned the book and very 
deliberately proceeded to read the descrip- 
tion. In her nervous excitement Patty felt 
that she must scream, and her fingers 
clutched the counter edge until the knuckles 
whitened. Finally the man looked up. 
“ That must be somewheres over on the 
Blackfoot side,” he announced. “ Must be 
Vil’s figuring on pulling over there. Too 
bad we won’t be seeing him much no more." 
He swung the book back. As the import 
of his words dawned upon the girl she 
leaned weakly against the counter. 

“Ain’t you feeling well?” asked the old 
man, eying her with concern. 

Without hearing him Patty picked up 
the pen, and as she wrote, her hand trem- 
bled so that she could scarcely form the 
letters. At last it was done, and the re- 
gister once again swung the book and read 
the freshly penned words. 

“Well, I’ll be darned!” he exclaimed, 
when he had finished. 

The blood had rushed back into the girl's 
face and she was regarding him with shining 
eyes: “ What’s the matter? Isn’t it right? 
Because if it isn’t you can show me how to 
do it, and I’ll fix it.” 

“ Oh, it’s right — all right.” He was 
eying her quizzically. “ Only it’s blamed 
funny. That there’s the claim Ail Holland 
just relinquished.” 

“Just relinquished!” gasped the girl, 
reaching out and shaking the old man’s 
sleeve in her excitement. “ What do you 
mean? Tell me!” 


“ Mean just what I said — here's the en- 
try.” 

“ Vil — Holland — just — relinquished,” she 
repeated, in a dazed voice. “ When did he 
file it?” 

“ I don’t recollect — it was back in the 
winter, or spring.” The old man began to 
turn the pages slowly backward. “ Here 
it is, March the thirteenth.” 

“ Why, that was before I came out here! ” 

“ How?” 

“Why did he relinquish?” The words 
rushed eagerly from her lips, and she 
waited, breathless, for the answer. 

“ It wasn’t no good. I guess, or he found 
a better one — that’s most generally why 
they relinquish.” 

“No good! Found a better one!” From 
the chaos of conflicting ideas the girl’s 
thoughts began to take definite form. “ The 
stakes in the ground were his stakes. Her 
father had never staked — would never have 
staked until ready to file.” 

Gradually it dawned on the girl that, 
without knowing it was her father’s, Vil 
Holland had staked and filed the claim. 

It was his. He did not know its value 
as her father had. He believed it to be 
worthless, but when he learned, only last 
night, back there in the cabin on Monte’s 
Creek, that it was really of enormous value 
— that it was the claim Rod Sinclair had 
staked his reputation on, the claim for 
which Rod Sinclair’s daughter had sought 
all summer — when he learned that, he had 
relinquished — that she might come into 
her own! 

Hot tears filled her eyes and caused the 
objects in the little room to blur and swim 
together in hopeless jumble. She knew, 
now, the meaning of his furious ride, and 
why he had changed horses at Thompson’s. 

And this was the man she had doubted! 
She alone, of all who knew him, had 
doubted him. Her cheeks burned with the 
shame of it. Not once, but again and 
again, she had doubted him — she, who loved 
him! This was the man with whom she had 
quarreled because he had carried a jug. 

Suddenly she realized why he had turned 
away from her — there in the little cabin. 
She recalled the words that came slowly 
from his lips, as, for a brief moment, he 


THE GOLD GIRL. 


469 


stood holding her hand. “ There is nothing 
for you in the hills.” “ And now, he is go- 
ing away — his outfit’s all packed, and he’s 
going away!” With a sob she dashed from 
the office. As she blotted the tears from her 
eyes with a handkerchief that had been 
her father’s, a wild, savage joy surged up 
within her. 

He should not go away! He was hers 
— hers! If he went, she would go, too. 
He should never leave her! And never, 
never would she doubt him again! 

She glanced down the street and her eyes 
fell upon Lightning, standing as he had 
stood a few minutes before. Only a mo- 
ment she hesitated, and her spurs clicked 
rapidly as she hurried down the sidewalk. 
The door of the saloon stood open and 
she walked boldly in. Vil Holland stood 
at the bar shaking dice with the bartender. 
The latter looked up surprised, and Vil 
followed his glance to the figure of the girl 
who had paused in the doorway. She beck- 
oned to him and he followed her out onto 
the sidewalk and stood, Stetson in hand, re- 
garding her gravely, unsmiling as was his 
wont. 

“ Vil — Vil Holland,” she faltered, as a 
furious blush suffused her cheeks, “ I’ve — 
I’ve changed my mind.” 

“ You mean — ” 

“ I mean, I will marry you — I wanted 
to say it — last night — only — only — ” Her 
voice sounded husky, and far away. 

“ But, now it’s too late. It was different 
■ — then. I didn’t know you’d made your 
strike. I thought we were both poor — 
but, now, you’ve struck it rich.” 

“ Struck it rich,” flared the girl. “ Who 
made it possible for me to strike it rich? 
Don’t you suppose I know you relinquished 
that claim? Relinquished it so I could file 
it!” 

“ Old Grebble talks too much,” growled 
the man. The claim wasn’t any good to me. 
I never went far enough in to get samples 
like those of your dad’s. I’d have relin- 
quished it anyway, as soon as I’d located 
another.”, 

“ But, you knew it was rich when you 
did relinquish it.” 

“ A man couldn’t hardly do different, 
could he?” 


“ Oh, Vil,” there were tears in the girl’s 
eyes, and she did not try to conceal them. 
The words trembled on her lips: “ A man 
couldn’t — your kind of a man! But — 

they’re so hard to find. Don’t— ^don’t rob 
me of mine — now that I’ve found him!” 

A shrill whistle tore the words from her 
lips. She glanced up, startled, to see Vil 
Holland take his fingers from his teeth. 
She followed his gaze and a block away, in 
front of tire wooden post-office, saw the 
Rev. Len Christie whirl in his tracks. The 
cowboy motioned him to wait, and taking 
the girl gently by the arm, turned her about, 
and together they walked toward the Bishop 
of All Outdoors, who awaited them with 
twinkling eyes. 

“ It’s about the school, I presume,” he 
greeted. ,l Everything is all arranged, Miss 
Sinclair. You* may assume your duties to- 
morrow.” 

“ If I were you, Len,” replied Vil Hol- 
land dryly, “ I wouldn’t go bettin’ much on 
that presoomer of yours — it ain’t workin’ 
just right. An’ Miss Sinclair has decided to 
assoom her duties to-day. If you ain’t got 
anything more important on your mind, 
we 'll just walk over to the church an’ get 
married.” 

The Rev. Len Christie regarded his friend 
solemnly. “ I didn’t think it of you, Vil — 
when I bragged tc you yesterday* about the 
' excellent teacher I'd got — I didn’t think 
you would slip right out and get her- away 
from me! ” 

“ Oh, I’m so sorry! Really, Mr. Christie, 
I didn’t mean to disappoint you in this way, 
at the last minute-—’ 

“ Don’t you go wastin’ any sympathy on 
that old renegade,” cut in Vil. 

“ That’s right,” laughed Christie, noting 
the .genuine concern in the girl’s eyes. “ As 
a matter of fact, I have in mind a substi- 
tute who will be tickled to death to learn 
that she is to have the regular position. 
Didn’t I tell you out at the Samuelson’s 
that I had a hunch you’d make your strike 
before school time? Of course, every one 
knows that Vil is the one who made the 
real strike, but you’ll find that the claim 
you’ve staked isn’t so bad, and that after 
you get down through the surface, you will 
run onto a whole lot of pure gold.” 


470 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY. 


Patty, who had been regarding him with 
a slightly puzzled expression, suddenly 
caught his allusion, and she smiled hap- 
pily into the face of her cowboy. “ I’ve 
already found pure gold,” she said, “ and 
it lies mighty close to the surface.” 

In the little church after the hastily sum- 
moned witnesses had departed, the Rev. 
Len Christie stood holding a hand of each. 
“ Never in my life have I performed a cler- 
ical office that gave me so much genuine 
happiness and satisfaction,” he announced. 

“ Me, neither,” assented Vil Holland 
heartily, and then — “ Hold on, Len. You’re 
too blame young an’ good-lookin’ for such 
tricks — an’ besides, I’ve, never kissed her 
myself, yet — ” 

“ Where will it be now?” asked Holland, 
when they found themselves once more upon 
the street. 

“ Home — dear,” whispered his wife. 
“ You know we’ve got to get that cabin 
up before snow flies — our cabin, Vil — with 
the porch that will look out over the snows 
of the changing lights.” 

“ If the whole town didn’t have their 
heads out the window, watchin’ us, I’d 
kiss you right here,” he answered, and 
strode off to lead her horse up beside his 
own. 

Swinging her into the saddle, he was 
about to mount Lightning, when she leaned 
over and raised the brown leather jug on its 
■thong. Why, it’s empty!” she exclaimed. 

“ So it is,” agreed Holland, with mock 
concern. 

“ Really, Vil, I don’t care — so much. If 
it don’t hurt men any more than it has hurt 
you, I won’t quarrel with it. I’ll wait while 
you get it filled.” 

“ Maybe I’d better,” he said, and swing- 
ing it from the saddle-horn, crossed the 
street and entered the general store. A few 
minutes later he returned and swung the 
jug into place. 

“ Why! Do they sell whisky at the 
store? I thought you got that at a saloon.” 

“ Whisky! ” The man looked up in sur- 
prise. “ This jug never held any whisky! 
It’s my vinegar jug. I don’t drink.” 

Patty stared at him in amazement. “ Do 
you mean to tell me you carry a jug of 
vinegar with you wherever you go?” 


For the first time since she had known 
him she saw that his eyes were twinkling, 
and that his lips were very near a smile: 

“ No, not exactly, but, you see, that first 
time I met you I happened to be riding from 
town with this jug full of vinegar. I 
noticed the look you gave it, an’ it tickled 
me most to death. So, after that, every 
time I figured I’d meet up with you I 
brought the jug along. I’d pour out the 
vinegar an’ fill it up with water, an’ some- 
times I’d just pack it empty — then, when 
I’d hit town, I’d get it filled again. I bet 
Johnson, over there, thinks I’m picklin’ me 
a winter’s supply of prickly pears. I must 
have bought close to half a barrel of vine- 
gar this summer.” 

“ Vil Holland! You carried that jug — 
just to — to tease me?” 

“ That’s about the size of it. An’, gosh! 
How you hated that jug!” 

“ It might have — it nearly did, make me 
hate you, too.” 

“ ‘ Might have,’ an’ ‘ nearly,’ an ’ 1 if,’ are 
all words about alike — they all sort of fall 
short of amountin’ to anything. It ‘ might 
have ’ — but, somehow, things don’t work 
out that way. The only thing that counts 
is, it didn’t.” 

Out on the trail they met Watts riding 
toward town. “ Where’s Microby?” he 
asked, addressing Patty. 

“ Microby! I haven’t seen Microby 
since early this morning. She was riding 
down a coulee not far from Vil’s camp.” 

“ Didn’t yo’ send for her?” 

“I certainly did not!” 

The man’s hand fumbled at his beard. 
“ Bethune wus along last evenin’ an’ hed a 
talk with her, an’ then he done tol’ ma 
yo’ wanted Microby should come up to yo’ 
place, come daylight. When I heern it, I 
mistrusted yo’ wouldn’t hev no truck with 
Bethune, so after I done the chores I rode 
up ther’. They wasn’t no one to hum.” 
The simple-minded man looked worried. 
“ Bethune, he could do anythin’ he wants 
with her. She thinks he’s grand — but, I 
know different. Then I met up with Lord 
Clendennin’ in the canon, an’ he tol’ me how 
Bethune wus headin’ fer Canady. He said, 
had I lost anythin’. An’ I said ‘ no,’ an’ he 
laffed, an’ says he guess that’s right.” 


ELEVEN HUNDRED BUCKS. 


471 


As Vil Holland listened, his eyes hard- 
ened, and at the conclusion something very 
like an oath ground from his lips. Patty 
glanced at him in surprise — never before 
had she seen him out of poise. 

“ You go back home,” he advised the 
greatly perturbed Watts, in a kindly tone, 

“ to the wife an’ the kids. I’ll find Microby 
for you!” 

When the man had passed from sight into 
the dip of a coulee, Vil leaned over and, 
drawing his wife close against his breast, 
kissed her lips again and again. “ It’s too 
bad, little girl, that our honeymoon’s got to 
be broke into this way, but you remember 
I told you once that if I won you’d have to 
be satisfied with what you got. You 
didn’t know what I meant, then, but you 
know now— I won— an’ I’m goin’ to win 
again! I’m goin’ to find that child! The 
poor little fool!” 

Patty saw that his eyes were flashing, 
and his voice sounded hard. “You ride, 

(The 


back to town an’ tell Len to get his white 
goods together an’ ride back with you to 
Watts’s. There’s goin’ to be a funeral — or 
better yet, a weddin’ an’ a funeral, in it 
for him by this time tomorrow, or my name 
ain’t Vil Holland!” And then, abruptly, 
he turned and rode into the north. 

A wild impulse to overtake him and dis- 
suade him from his purpose took posses- 
sion of the girl. But the thought of Mi- 
croby in the power of Bethune, and of 
the sorrowing face of poor Watts stayed her. 
She saw her husband hitch his belt forward 
and swiftly look to his six-gun, and as the 
sound of galloping hoofs grew fainter, she 
watched his diminishing figure until it was 
swallowed up in the distance. 

Impulsively she stretched out her arms to 
him: “ Good luck to you, my knight! ” she 
called, but the words ended in a sob, and 
she turned her horse and, with a vast hap- 
piness in her heart, rode back toward the 
town, 
end.) 


\(ieAJe4L^~> 




Evea\s Eiwoe KeE 



(y 


B Y far the most unpopular man in 
Franklin ville, old Curtis Green was, 
for the most part, distinctly satisfied 
with himself. At any moment he could lay 
his gnarled hands on more than twenty 
thousand dollars in cash, more than two- 
thirds of the mortgages on properties within 
a radius of twenty miles were recorded in 
his name, and his position as selectman of 


the little village was one that not only fed 
his vanity, but added not a little, in devious 
ways, to the hoard that meant more to him 
almost than did life itself. 

More than once, through his position as 
selectman, he had ordered improvements 
made on a property that he was certain 
would eventually fall into his own hands 
because of a default in payment of interest 


472 


ALL- STORY WEEKLY. 


or principal. Three of the properties he 
now owned outright were equipped with im- 
provements, the costs of which had been the 
direct result of the default that had enabled 
him to get possession of the properties by 
reason of the mortgages he held. His sys- 
tem was a good one from his own point of 
view, and worked both ways against the 
unlucky borrower. 

As a note-shaving penny-pincher he held 
a reputation that was as far-reaching as it 
was unenviable, but he lived his serene, 
profit-taking way, his hard eyes ever on the 
alert for a chance to extract a penny or a 
dollar from his fellow townsmen. There 
was but one thing that could cause him 
alarm, and that was the prospect of parting 
with any of the wealth he had accumulated. 
Any threatened inroad upon his bank-roll 
would cause him to bristle like a frightened 
dog, nor was his speech, upon such occa- 
sions, unlike the whine of a dog, a fact that 
will go a long way toward explaining the 
worried look upon his seamed countenance 
as he perused the letter clutched tightly in 
his fist. 

The letter was written in pencil on cheap, 
yellow paper. The penmanship was an al- 
most indistinguishable scrawl, but the peer- 
ing eyes of Green deciphered enough of it 
to cause him alarm. He read it, half aloud, 
for perhaps the tenth time: 

Dear Sir : 

You don't remember me, but I got good cause 
to remember you. Ten yeers ago you was the 
cause of my mother losing her propitty up on the 
old Nicetown road. You played a mean, sharp 
trick on her because she couldn't help herself. 
Now I am going to get that money back. Don't 
think because you are selectman and constable 
that that’s going to help you any, because it 
ain’t. When I come for the money you’ll give 
it up. You’ll give it up, or else — Well, never 
mind what else. I would tell you just what day 
I was coming, only it might put you on your 
guard. So long, until I see you and be sure and 
have the money ready for me. 

There was no attempt at a signature, 
and an examination of the envelope re- 
vealed only the fact that the letter had un- 
doubtedly been dropped in the box at the 
local post-office, since there was no mark 
of an outside post-office. 

“ It’s an outrage,” snarled Green, as he 


finished the letter. “ I wonder who wrote 
that there letter. I bet it was some smart 
Aleck in this town tryin’ to scare me. 
Nothin’ but a lot of shiftless, lazy no-goods 
that’s mad because I managed to get a 
little money together. 

“ It ain’t my fault if they ain’t smart 
enough to take care of themselves. The law 
says I can do certain things, and them 
things is all I ever do. I ain’t got a cent 
that I didn’t come by legal, and I defy 
any man in the world to say different.” 

It was no new thing for Curtis Green to 
talk to himself. In fact, that was about the 
only manner in which he could be sure of 
a sympathetic listener. He held no part in 
the comfortable discussions in front of the 
post-office or in the lobby of the old frame 
Franklinville hotel. His appearance in 
either place was usually the signal for si- 
lence or the breaking up of whatever soci- 
able group might have gathered there. 

Any time Green was found in conversa- 
tion with any of his fellow citizens, it was a 
safe bet that money was the topic of con- 
versation, money that was either owing, or 
was about to become owing, to Green. His 
self-communing, as a result, had taken on 
the nature of a two-part conversation, in 
which he both asked and answered his own 
questions. 

“ Maybe it ain’t no joke,” he argued with 
himself. “ Maybe some darn fool has got 
the idea that you done them wrong. You 
can’t be sure about people nowadays, spe- 
cially when they ain’t calm and easy-goin’ 
like yourself. Law don’t mean nothin’ to 
some people. Look at them Bolshevikis.” 

“ But it was all legal, I’m telling you,” 
came the retort. “ Lemme see. I can’t just 
get in my mind what property on Nicetown 
road it could of been. There’s the old Gar- 
ner place I got long about seven years ago. 
It couldn’t of been that, ’cause Missus 
Garner died a couple of months after I fore- 
closed, and, besides, she didn’t have no kin. 

“ Then there’s that little bit of a house 
and fifteen acres that I got from that Eye- 
talian family. What was their name? 
Messana; that’s it. Maybe it’s them. They 
had a lot of kids, seems to me. An’ them 
foreigners is wicked!” 

“ I don’t see where it makes any differ- 


ELEVEN HUNDRED BUCKS. 


473 


ence who it is,” came the answer. “ All you 
got to do is to make some kind of prepa- 
rations, so’s if anybody comes along and 
tries to rob you or harm you, you can 
nail them and stick them in the jail house 
where they belong. 

“ It seems to me, you bein’ a selectman 
thataway, and in charge of the whole police 
force, you ought to be able to make some 
arrangements with Ty Winters to kinda 
hang close around you. He ain’t much of a 
constable, I admit, but he’s all we got, and 
between the two of you, you ought to be 
able to handle any slicker that comes along 
and tries to do you.” 

“ By gosh! that’s a good idea,” assented 
the first half of Green. “ I don’t know 
but what I’ll do just that. Old Ty owes 
me forty dollars that he borrowed on a note 
from me three weeks ago, and he’s got to 
come pretty close to doin’ just what I tell 
him to do, or I’ll tie up his wages and collect 
that forty. Guess I might just as well go 
out right now and hunt him up.” 

He arose, creakingly, from the broken- 
backed chair that constituted fifty per cent 
of the furniture of the dingiest office in the 
world. He arose with the intention of hunt- 
ing up Constable Ty Winters, to deputize 
him as a bodyguard, but his intention was 
never carried out. Instead, he sank weakly 
back into his chair and would have screamed 
for help had not the tall, roughly clad 
stranger who had noiselessly entered the 
office, stepped quickly forward and slapped 
a huge paw over Green’s mouth, effectually 
stifling the incipient outcry. 

“None o’ that, now,” came the command 
in a husky voice. “ If you know what’s 
goin’ to be good for you, you’ll keep that 
bazoo of yourn shut.” 

The hand w r as removed for a cautious 
second and immediately replaced over' the 
widespread mouth of the terrified Green. 
Again a scream died in the making. 

“ Listen, old man; I don’t want to get 
rough with you, but I ain’t goin’ to stand 
for no squawk out of you. The first thing 
you know you’ll wake up that funny-lookin’ 
constable you got here, and then I’ll have to 
take his star away from him and spank him. 

“ Now t I’m gonna take my hand off’n 
your mouth again, and this time I don’t 


want you to try to make any holler. If 
you do, then I’ll have to tie you up. You 
best take my advice and listen to what I 
got to say, ’cause I think you and me is 
goin’ to have quite an interestin’ talk to- 
gether. What do you say; shall I tie you 
up, or will you be quiet?” 

Green nodded a weak assent. 

“ What does that mean?” inquired the 
other. “ Are you gonna keep quiet without 
me having to tie you up?” 

Again Green nodded in the affirmative. 

“ All right, then,” said the stranger, re- 
moving his hand. “ But remember,” he 
cautioned, “ no funny business and no 
squawkin’, or else you’re liable to regret it 
mighty sudden.” 

The stranger searched the office in vain 
for a chair. Finding none, he sprawled un- 
gracefully upon the old pine-top table that 
served Green for a desk and as the counter 
over which his many financial deals were 
put through. 

“ I guess you don’t recognize me, do 
you?” he asked after he had comfortably 
disposed of his long, lank body. 

“ No, I don’t,” snapped Green. “ But let 
me tell you this, young feller. You better 
not try any of your funny business on me. 
or the first thing you know you’ll land in the 
lock-up.” There was more than indignation 
in Green’s voice. There was also a note of 
desperation, mingled with righteous anger 
that he should be thus bearded in his own 
den. 

“ Cut cut the comedy,” responded the 
stranger easily. “ First thing you know, 
you’ll get me to laughin’, and when I once 
start to laugh, I ain’t much good for busi- 
ness. And, believe me, I got some business 
with you, friend. I suppose you got my 
letter?” 

“ If you mean that fool piece of writin’ 
about makin’ me pay back some money that 
I got legal and honest, then I got it, yes.” 

“That’s the one I mean. My name is 
Tincher; Willie Tincher it was when I lived 
around here. Does that say anything to 
you, old man?” 

Green pretended to think deeply. As a 
matter of fact the name Tincher did mean 
something to him. It meant one of the 
most valuable pieces of small property 


474 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


within a- radius of ten miles, a property that 
he had owned for some ten years, and one 
that had been steadily growing in value. He 
had always considered it one of his most 
comfortable assets. 

“No,” he lied at last. “ I never heard 
the name before.” And then he over- 
stepped his owm caution. “ Anyhow, what 
call have you got to come pesterin’ me? 
Even if I did hear the name, and even if I 
did lend money to somebody by that name 
and I had to foreclose a mortgage to get 
what was cornin’ to me, what call have you 
got to come pesterin’ me now? I tell you it 
was all done legal and proper.” 

“ So you do remember it,” commented 
the stranger dryly. “ I thought you would. 
I thought you’d remember the name, al- 
though 1 couldn’t very well expect you to 
remember me. You see, it’s been about 
fourteen years since I was in this place last, 
and then I was only about thirteen years of 
age. 

“ Can your memory go back far enough 
to. remember the time when Willie Tincher 
run away with the circus? No? That’s too 
bad, ’cause I’m the Willie Tincher that 
done the runnin’ away.” 

“ What’s that got to do with me?” 
snapped Green. His courage had, in a 
measure, returned. So far the stranger had 
made no demands of him, nor had he at- 
tempted violence, other than the initial 
stifling of his outcries. 

Green’s shrewd old wits were marshaling 
themselves for a battle with this stranger. 
There was little doubt in the old man’s 
mind that he would be able in some way 
to outwit the stranger, who appeared but 
little more than an ungainly youngster, de- 
spite his twenty-seven years. What the 
newcomer’s game was, Green was not quite 
certain, but if it came to a battle of shrewd- 
ness, he had no fear of the outcome. 

“ I’m cornin’ to that part of it,” went on 
the stranger, in answer to Green’s testily 
flung question. “ After I run away from 
home, about two years after, my daddy 
died. That left my mother without no one 
but herself to look after the little farm 
she had up there on Nicetown Road. You 
know where it is. You can’t help knowin’, 
seein’ as you’re the owner of it now\ 


“ Well, anyway, things got bad, and then 
they got worse, and maw was compelled 
to come to you to borrow five hundred dol- 
lars from you. She was mighty grateful to 
you at the time for lendin’ her that five 
hundred. She thought you was a kind- 
hearted angel of some kind. She found out 
different later on. 

“ She had hard work makin’ things go, 
but for a year or so she managed to pay off 
the interest on that five hundred every time 
it came due, and she was also puttin’ a 
little bit by toward payin’ off the debt. I 
wasn’t makin’ a whole lot of money then, 
bein’ only a kid, but every time I wrote to 
her I would try and put somethin’ in. 

“ Maybe it would be a ten or a five, and 
once it was a twenty. Sometimes it was 
only a one or a two, but I always managed 
to slip a bill in the envelope when I wrote 
to her. She put all that away toward payin’ 
off that five hundred. 

“ Then you and that gang of weak-kneed 
idiots that was selectmen then got together, 
and mainly by your doin’s a lot of improve- 
ments was ordered around here in the pavin’ 
and drainage and things like that. Im- 
provements that wasn’t necessary, except 
that you was foxy and knowed just what 
you was doin’. 

“ Take a walk up Nicetown Road now, 
and you’ll see that the only property within 
two miles walk that has got a brick walk in 
front and a paved yard around it, and that 
is all under-drained, waitin’ for the sewer 
that was never put in, is the one my old 
maw used to own. That pavin’ and that 
under-drainin’ was done by your orders. 

“ It was a slick game and you worked it 
just right, ’cause it took pretty near all 
the money my maw had saved toward pay- 
in’ off the mortgage and then when she 
came to you to have the mortgage renewed, 
you refused and the house was sold. 

“ No, it wasn’t sold. It was give away, 
'cause nobody bid on it except you, and 
you only bid enough to satisfy the mort- 
gage. You kept everybody else from bid- 
din’.” 

Green opened his mouth to protest, but 
the stranger interrupted angrily. 

“ Don’t say you didn’t, you cheap crook. 
I’ve been snoopin’ around, findin’ out what 


ELEVEN HUNDRED BUCKS. 


I could find out, and I got the goods on you 
right. I know what you did and what you 
didn’t do. 

“ After you stole — yes, stole — my maw’s 
house, you made her move out, and she 
went to work as a hired girl down at 
Petit’s. Her as old as she was, she had to 
go out and work for other people for a livin’. 

“ She didn’t have to do it long. Losin’ 
her home that way kind of broke her heart, 
and then the hard work on top of that 
helped her to peter out. I kinda figure you 
killed that poor old lady just as sure as 
though you had shot her with a gun.” 

The stranger finished and was abruptly 
silent. For perhaps two minutes neither 
spoke, the stranger eying Green with a 
look of supreme disgust, the latter squirm- 
ing uncomfortably in his chair. He wanted 
to turn in his seat so that he could com- 
mand a view of the window and, if the op- 
portunity offered, surreptitiously summon 
help of a passer-by. 

He had lost some of his faith in his abil- 
ity to rid himself of the stranger. There 
was purpose in that hard voice that had so 
monotonously and baldly recited facts that 
Green well knew. He wished, fervently, 
that some one would enter his office, but 
discounted that probability in view of the 
fact that his office was looked upon locally 
as a good place to avoid. 

“ And now,” continued the stranger, 
“ I’ve come to collect the difference between 
What you paid for my maw’s place and 
what it was worth. I figure it amounts to 
about eleven hundred dollars. 

“ My paw paid thirteen hundred for it. 
and them improvements you ordered cost 
about three hundred more. That makes 
sixteen, and you paid five. The difference 
is eleven hundred dollars and that’s what 
I’m a gonna get out of you.” 

“ You talk like a fool,” said Green. He 
attempted a fine show of scorn at the other’s 
irrational request, but his voice quavered in 
spite of himself. “ You don’t get no ’leven 
hundred dollars out of me. There ain’t a 
court in the whole world that would give it 
to you.” 

“ Court! ” The stranger laughed, a hard, 
mirthless laugh. “ Maybe not, old man. 
Maybe not. But just the same, I’m gam- 


475 

blin’ on carryin’ eleven hundred dollars 
away from here this afternoon. 

“ Maybe I’d better tell you what I want 
it for. Maybe you remember that at the 
time you put my old maw out of her home 
there was a little bit of a girl about four or 
five years old. That was my sister. I guess 
you never paid no attention to her, seein’ as 
how she was too little to have any money 
for you to try to get ahold of. 

“ Well, that little sister of mine was sent 
to my paw’s folks in Indianapolis after you 
put my maw out, and she was raised by 
them. They done the best they could by 
their relative, but they didn’t have any too 
much for themselves and their own five 
children. 

“ That little sister of mine is growed up 
now, and she’s just about old enough to 
think about goin’ to some good boardin’ 
school to get an education. Then after she 
comes out of there, like as not she’ll want 
to marry some good, clean young fellar. 
Well, I figure that that eleven hundred dol- 
lars that’s owin’ to us will just about do the 
trick fine.” 

The stranger made a lazy movement to- 
ward his hip pocket and produced a wicked- 
looking revolver. For a long minute he 
toyed with it, while cold beads of perspi- 
ration broke out on Green’s forehead. 

“ Do I get it?” asked the stranger, in a 
persuasive tone of voice. 

“ I — I ain’t got it. I ain’t got that much 
here. Maybe I could give you a check for 
it.” A gleam of hope brightened his crafty 
features. 

“ Haw-haw,” boomed the stranger, but 
without mirth! “ A check, heh? Don’t 
you give me credit for no brains at all? 
Checks is no good with me. I want the 
cash, and I’m a gonna get it. too. 

“ Do you think I’d come here and take a 
chance like this without knowin’ you had 
the money handy? Don’t I know that you 
bank your money in Lehigh? Don’t I know 
that that’s too far to go when you need 
money in a hurry, and that you always keep 
a good-sized roll in that big iron kettle over 
in the corner?” 

He pointed contemptuously with the 
muzzle of his revolver in the direction of 
Green’s antiquated and rusty iron safe. 


476 


ALL -STORY WEEKLY, 


“ You got it figured out good, old man. 
You know when a man needs money real 
quick, the sight of long green and yellow 
bills is apt to make him take much less than 
just a check would. 

“ Your system is all right for the hicks 
you do business with, but this is one time 
that it gets you into trouble. Come on, 
now, open up that safe. I’m gettiu’ tired of 
your comp’ny.” *~ 

“ I won’t,” snarled Green. “ I’ll put you 
in jail for this, young fellar.” 

“ Never mind that, now. You can do all 
the puttin’ in jail you want to after I get 
that eleven hundred dollars. After I once 
get the money you can put me in all the 
jails you got a mind to — if you ever catch 
me. 

“ Now, you’re gonna open that safe in 
about two minutes or the folks around here 
is gonna have a hard time findin’ your head. 
It won’t do them any good to look near 
your carcass, because I’ll be some distance 
off, and maybe it’ll be mussed up consid- 
erable. This old pop-gun of mine sure does 
spit a mean mouthful. Come on, now! I 
ain’t gonna fool with you no more.” 

- There was little use for resistance on 
the part of Green. The old man was 'wise 
enough to see that. Nor would the stranger 
argue further with him. The menace of 
the gun he held in his hand, the grim deter- 
mination in his eyes and the fact that he 
would not speak further, merely waving the 
terrified Green toward the safe in the cor- 
ner, was what broke down the old man’s re- 
sistance. 

Almost sobbing, he crossed the room, 
opened the safe and wrung his hands pite- 
ously as the stranger pushed him roughly 
aside and extracted from the tin box in 
which they reposed a crisp sheaf of bills. 

With unhurried care and scrupulous ac- 
curacy the stranger counted out eleven hun- 
dred dollars, which he pocketed. The bal- 
ance he pushed toward Green. 

“ There,” he said, “ there’s the rest of 
your money. I ain’t no thief. Eleven hun- 
dred dollars is what 1 figure we’re entitled 
to, and eleven hundred dollars is what I got. 
That’s all I want. I guess it’s polite to 
say ‘ thanks,’ but I don’t feel like sayin’ 
it, so I won’t.” 


“ You got the money now,” said Green, 
sudden hope lighting his soul, as he realized 
that the hardest part of the stranger’s work 
— the get-away — was still to be accom- 
plished. “You got the money, but you 
ain't goin’ to get away with it. 

“ No more than you step out that door, 
I'll have the whole town after you. To- 
night, Master Willie Whatever-vour-name- 
is, you’re goin’ to sleep behind jail bars.” 

“ Do you think so, old man?” laughed 
the stranger happily. “ Well, I don’t. 
Suppose you turn around and look through 
the window and tell me what you see.” 

Green turned apprehensively. For a mo- 
ment or two nothing met his gaze except 
a lazy, half-hearted rain and the sleepy 
main street of the little country town; then, 
walking slowly and with measured tread, 
there came an overgrown, loutish youth, a 
tentlike, greenish-hued umbrella upon his 
shoulder, his serious eyes fixed upon the 
door leading from Green’s office. 

For perhaps twenty feet the gangling fig- 
ure walked in one direction, then, with a 
snappy, military about face, he retraced 
his steps in the other direction, where the 
same thing took place. He patroled his post 
as meticulously as a sentry on the eve of 
battle. 

“ That's why you're not going to land 
me in jail," said the stranger complacently. 
“ The minute you put your foot outside that 
door, my friend out there will blow your 
head off. He’s got the daddy of this little 
pop-gun in his pocket, and he’s gonna stay 
there until I make a get-away, and if you 
try to go out that door, he’ll take mighty 
good care you don’t get very far, and if you 
holler, why— he’ll just get you through the 
window. 

“ It took me a long while to think all this 
out, old man, but I flatter myself that when 
I did get it figured out, it was a hummer. 
I guess I can leave you now T . Remember, 
don’t put your foot outside that door, nor 
don't holler. That is, if you care anything 
for a whole pelt. 

“ Good-by, old man. I’ll tell sister 
Minnie how you was so good as to send 
her to boardin’-school with her own 
money.” 

In another instant the stranger was gone, 


ELEVEN HUNDRED BUCKS. 


477 


and with him Green’s eleven hundred dol- 
lars. Huddled up in the rickety chair, the 
old man cursed long and deeply. His first 
impulse was to spring to the door and brave 
the fire of the pistol-toting youth across 
the street, but even as he considered the 
attempt to rise from his chair, the youth’s 
snappy about face brought Green in the 
direct line of his vision. With a groan, 
Green slumped back into his chair. 

For more than a half hour the frantic 
Green hunched himself up in the chair and 
watched the military precision of his jailer. 
Twenty feet, about face; twenty feet, about 
face and always those serious eyes glued on 
the door to Green’s office. 

Suddenly, and at a time when Green’s 
nerves had reached almost the breaking 
point, the youth stopped. An expression 
of pleased relief broke over his face and he 
reached his hand into a capacious hip 
pocket and extracted a bandanna with 
which he mopped a perspiring brow. 

For a second or two he rested, breathing 
his relief in audible exhalations. Then, 
closing the umbrella, he grasped it by its 
middle and strode easily toward Green’s 
office, an amiable grin wreathing his fea- 
tures. 

Green, who had been watching him, and 
who had determined to give the alarm the 
moment the youth turned his back, cowered 
in his chair as the knob turned and the door 
swung wide to admit the youth. Even the 
grin, which was friendliness itself, failed to 
reassure him. He was fearful that fresh in- 
dignities were about to be heaped upon 
him. 

The youth advanced to the middle of the 
floor, shifted the antiquated rain-shedder 
quickly and came to a correct “ order- 
arms.” With his left hand he executed a 
clumsy rifle salute. 

A self-conscious but wholly satisfied 
smile covered his freckled features. For a 
moment there was dead silence. The youth 
broke it. 

“ Well, cap’n, do I make it?” he asked 
anxiously. 

“ Make it,” parroted Green. “ Make it 
— what do you mean?” 

The youth relaxed his military pose. Dis- 
appointment shone in his features. 


“ Oh, say, now,” he coaxed ; “ don’t try 
to make fun of me. You know what I 
mean. Do I make the militia? Are you 
goin’ to put me in it?” 

“ The militia?” Green was puzzled. He 
could extract not a particle of reason from 
the youth’s remarks. 

“ Sure, the militia,” responded the other. 
“ That’s what I was out there for. Oh, you 
know all about it, cap’n. Didn’t you get 
that other fellar to bring me all the way 
here from Lehigh, just so’s I could show you 
what I could do, how I could drill and 
everything? 

“ Didn’t you tell him that if I showed 
you I could walk post in a military manner 
and could salute and stand at ‘ attention ’ 
and all like that, that you’d get me in the 
militia, didn’t you?” 

“ I don’t understand,” babbled Green. 
“ Did he tell you that?” 

“ Sure he told me that,” answered the 
youth. “ Say, you ain’t backin’ out, are 
you? Didn’t I do all right? I c’n do lots 
better with a reg’lar rifle.” 

“ And you weren’t out there to shoot me, 
if I came out that door?” queried Green 
wonderingly. 

The youth laughed. 

“ Shoot you! What with?” 

“ Didn’t he tell you to stand out there 
and shoot me through the window, if I 
hollered,” persisted Green, brushing a 
trembling hand before his dazed eyes. 

“ No, sir,” replied the youth, and there 
was unmistakable honesty and truth in his 
eyes. “ No, sir; I wouldn’t never think of 
shootin’ nobody. All I want to do is get in 
the militia. I been tryin’ to learn how to 
drill and everything just so’s I could — ” 
But the rest of the aspiring youth’s words 
were never uttered. With a shriek of rage, 
Green leaped from his chair and laid vio- 
lent hands on the would-be soldier. Sur- 
prised, the youth allowed himself to be 
whirled about. 

The youth’s progress toward the neigh- 
boring town of Lehigh was slow and pain- 
ful. From time to time an inquiringly 
sympathetic hand would explore that por- 
tion of his trousers that had come in violent 
contact with the irate Green’s foot. The 
umbrella trailed in the mud. 



T HE years have more than justified the wisdom of Horace Greeley’s advice to 
our fathers: “ Go West, young man, go West.” Many among us (unavowedly, 
of course) suspect the virtue has not wholly evaporated from this remedy. If 
we could shake the dust of the effete East from our feet, free our nostrils of the 
pungent odor of gasoline, and disengage t>ur eyes from their preoccupancy with the 
glitter of Mammon’s mountain, a larger life and a bigger slice of health and happiness 
would be the reward of our journey. But debt and habit hold us in their net, and 
here we waste away, engrossed in business, housed in bricks and brass, dreaming of 
open spaces, the fair face of the ranges and the healing cool of the mountains. 
Blessed are they who escape and win contentment in the joy of the open. 

Here, where men so often fail, in things of the spirit and the will to happiness, 
women come through with “ Excelsior ” on their banners. 

In our next week’s serial — 

TH’ RAMBLIN’ KID 

BY EARL WAYLAND BOWMAN 

two open-minded women who were surfeited with bromides in correct clothes and 
the atmosphere they engender, concluded the Greeley command covered their case. 
Accordingly, they voted to quit their gilded cage in Connecticut and to throw in their 
lot with Uncle Josiah Heck and the Quarter-Circle Ranch. The result is an engaging 
story, in which the West wins the allegiance of these high-spirited women after sharing 
her riches with them. Uncle Heck, to say nothing of th’ Ramblin’ Kid — we can’t 
stop to give you close-ups of these delightful leads — had cast his lines in pleasant 
places. But “ the best-laid plans of mice and men — ” Well, see this novel version by 
an author who makes his initial bow to our readers in this number. 

,«* .•* Jt 

Some forty miles south of the coast of Cuba there lies the Isle of Pines, some- 
times called the “ Gem of the Caribbean.” It belongs to Cuba, although of late it 
has been Americanized to some extent. It isn’t a large island — not much more than 
forty miles in circumference — but it has a diversity of beautiful scenery and natural 
resources that are of interest to business men. But, more important to the fiction- 
reading public, it furnishes a fine setting for romance. And in the splendid four-part 
serial that starts in next week’s All-Story Weekly the author, with more than 
usual skill, has taken full advantage of this setting for a romantic and exciting tale 
of treasure-quest under southern skies. You must not miss the first instalment of 

UNDER THE SIGN GF SCORPIO 

BY STEPHEN CHALMERS 

Aoiii'jr of “ The Frozen Beauty,” “ The Invisible Empire,” * The Castle on the Crag,” etc. 

Mr. Chalmers is a story-teller of quite exceptional ability, and in this, his latest 
novel, has given us of his best. This new All-Story Weekly feature has all the 

478 


HEART TO HEART TALKS. 


479 


qualities needful for a tale of buried treasure — rapid action, strong characters, a plot 
that keeps you guessing right up to the end— and all told with that craftsmanship 
that makes a story a living and convincing thing. Next to a vacation in the South, 
the best winter entertainment that we can suggest is the reading of this fine story of 
Stephen Chalmers. 


H AVE you ever met the man who “ never felt 
a moment's fear ” ? We always had a 
shrewd notion that most of these fearless ones 
have done most of their adventuring in a com- 
fortable armchair. Most of the fellows who 
fought in France will tell you frankly that there 
were a good many times when their knees weren't 
any too strong — but they went ahead anyhow and 
finished their job. To us it seems that the differ- 
ence between a coward and a brave man is that 
while the coward is afraid and acts in accordance, 
the brave man is afraid but overcomes his fear. 
Turenne, a famous French soldier of bygone days, 
on going into action remarked : “ You tremble, 
body! Well, you would tremble more if you 
knew where I am going to take you. " The hero 
of the novelette in next week's issue — 

THE EYE COMES OUT 

BY JACK BETHEA 

had a trembling body and shaken nerves, but he 
forced it to go ahead and carry out the work 
which his mind and soul demanded that it do. 
The stage of his testing wasn't a battle-field — 
it was the inky depths of a coal mine. What he 
did wasn't easy to do — but worth-while things 
seldom are. And what is more worth while than 
the mastery of a man's mind over his body? 
This is a story well worth reading. 

jt ,-t yt 

The popular misconceptions which obtain about 
the stage and stage-people would fill a good-sized 
book. Just how the legends are born and con- 
tinue to flourish is of less importance than an 
honest desire to exhibit stage-people as they 
are. For this reason we have a special predilec- 
tion for George Kerr O’Neill’s vaudeville stories 
because he lets us all see what delightfully normal 
and human people they are. His latest revelation, 
“ A MAGNET,” in next week's magazine, is a 
gem of a story and a faithful portrait of some of 
these people who have been done a grave injustice 
by the sensational nonsense which is talked about 
them. Don’t miss this story if you want to know 
the truth about “ a headliner.” 

•.* 

We don't want a single reader to miss Solita 
Solano's lovely story, “ DOMINGO." in next 
week's magazine. Here is a tale which deserves 
more than passing attention because it is written 
with that sympathy and understanding of a primi- 
tive people which can only come from long resi- 
dence among them. The story is laid in the 
Philippines, and all the characters are Filipinos. 


£ 

Most of us know too little about this country 
and its people, for whose emancipation we have 
' made ourselves responsible. " Domingo ” is a bit 
of the real thing. 

The splendid impression created by Raymond 
Barrett in his series, “ BROWN : BENEFACTOR 
AT LARGE,” is well sustained by the third story, 
which will be found in next week’s magazine: 
Adventure, or the Stray Hair.” Most of us, 
unwittingly, have at add times picked up a stray 
hair which has called for explanations, but I 
question whether any among us has ever been 
projected into such a medley of adventure and 
misadventure by so harmless a phenomenon as 
the hero of this tale. 

We confess to a social conscience and a desire to 
benefit our fellow wayfarers, but not to the extent 
of Brown's benefactions. However, you may think 
differently. Consult Brown. 

,* **t 

WANTS SEQUEL TO “ THE FLYING LE- 
GION ” 

To the Editor : 

I have just finished the story, “ The Flying 
Legion," and if you will please tell Mr. England 
that unless he writes us a sequel in a short while 
I’m afraid that something wall happen. That 
story is not complete. Possibly he is now writing 
one, for he did not tell what happened to Nissir, 
the plane, or the fate of the other five left with 
it, and there are quite a few things that point 
to the fact that a sequel must follow soon. 

I have liked it so well, that if he does not finish 
I believe that I will get the assistance of some one 
who can give me passages in the Arabic tongue, 
and try to let the Master go back to get the treas- 
ure, find Bohannon, and establish the fate of the 
rest of the legion. 

Your magazine has been read by me for about 
three months lately, but I read your publications 
some three years ago, and have enjoyed many an 
hour perusing same. 

Among other stories that I have liked in your 
late issues are: “The Hidden Kingdom” — a sequel 
to this might prove acceptable ; “ A Buccaneer in 
Spats,” “ Grey Dusk,” and “ Trailin'.” I am now 
reading with interest “ No Fear,” “ The Red Seal,” 
and also “ A Buccaneer in Spats," which I have 
mentioned above. 

Let me hope that you will ask Mr. England to 
give us an early sequel to “ The Flying Legion,” 
and I wish your magazine the best of luck in the 
future. L. E. Lloyd. 

Fort Worth, Texas. 


ALL- STORY WEEKLY, 


480 

LITTLE HEART- BEATS 

Please send me All-Story Weekly for No- 
vember IJ, igig, for inclosed ten cents. I have 
been a constant reader of your wonderful maga- 
zine for nearly ten years. For some reason I 
missed this number but trust that you have a copy 
on hand. I have never written you before, but, 
nevertheless, I have appreciated the All-Story 
Weekly more than any magazine on the market. 
The stories are such a nice variety, unlike other 
magazines, that it is very hard to pick out a 
favorite. Each and every story is a favorite of 
mine. Did you say I was not hard to please? 
Not with an All-Story Weekly; they all please. 
Trusting that 1 may soon receive the copy I men- 
tioned, I am now and always for the All-Story 
Weekly. Mrs. Georgia Nichols. 

Calumet Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. 


Have been reading the All-Story Weekly for 
a long time. I was quite a little girl when I read 
my first copy, and have missed very few since 
then. I love your Southern stories, and E. K. 
Means's negro stories very much. Also the West- 
ern stories. “ The Untamed ” was great. “ The 
Gold Girl ” promises to be good, too. Why do 
we never hear from E. R. Burroughs? When 
will we have another “ Janie Frete ” story by 
R. S. Spears ? I would like very much to see 
another story like “ The Mucker,” by Edgar Rice 
Burroughs. Like your serials better than the short 
stories, but you can't please every one. Wishing 
you success, Percie B. Selicman. 

Little Rock, Arkansas. 

As 1 have been a reader of the All-Story 
Weekly for some time I thought I would write 


and tell how much I like it. I just couldn’t get 
along without it. I couldn’t get it for a while on 
account of the printers’ strike, and I think I 
appreciate it all the more because I had to do 
without it. I would like some more stories' by 
E. R. Burroughs. I think he is splendid. Some 
stories I liked especially well were “ Black But- 
terflies,” “ The Conquest of the Moon Pool,” 
“ The Substitute Millionaire,” “ Ashes to Ashes,” 
“Twenty-Six Clues,” “The Girl in the Golden 
Atom,” and others too numerous to mention. I 
am so glad to have a sequel to “ The Girl in the 
Golden Atom.” I would like to hear from All- 
Story Weekly readers, and will answer any let- 
ters I may receive. Best wishes to All-Story 
Weekly and readers. Miss Margaret Shea. 

Nelsonville, Ohio. 


I enclose one dollar to renew my subscription 
for another three months, beginning with the issue 
of January 3. Have just finished “ Eastward Ho!” 
and think it was 100 per cent. My opinions of 
other recent serials are : “ On Swan' River,” 100 per 
cent ; “ Comrades of Peril,” 100 per cent ; “ The 
Clean-Up,” 95 per cent ; “ Misery Mansions,” 90 
per cent ; “ The Grouch,” 90 per cent ; “ Children 
of the Night,” 88 per cent; “ Lions’ Jaws,” 85 per 
cent; “From Now On,” 88 per cent; “Conquest 
of the Moon Pool,” 5 per cent ; “ Mouthpiece of 
Zitu,” 10 per cent; Means’s Tickfall stories, 100 
per cent; “The Ivory Pipe,” 99 per cent. Well, 
there are many people of many minds, and many 
minds of different kinds, but I don’t see why so 
many go daft over the “ Moon Pool ” stories. I 
simply can’t see them. Something nearer home for 
mine. G. A. England and Parrish are great. Hope 
they will come again soon. O. L. Reitan 

Kathryn, North Dakota. 


THIS “| /\Qth ALL-STORY WEEKLY SERIAL TO 
IS THE BE PUBLISHED IN BOOK FORM 


WHERE DEAD MEN WALK 

BY HENRY LEVERAGE 

Author of " Whispering Wires,” " Mickey McMasters,” “The White Cipher,” etc. 

In more ways than one has Mr. Leverage achieved the unusual in this story. In the first 
place, from a purely technical standpoint, he has once again proven the fallacy of the literary 
tradition that the short-story writer never makes a good novelist — has demonstrated his versa- 
tility not only in theme, but in vehicle. And this novel, too, has all the peculiar excellencies 
of his short stories— vivid characterization, dramatic intensity, novelty of plot, and most of 
all that subtle, elusive quality, convincingness, that only an intimate knowledge of his subject 
and setting and a profound understanding of and sympathy with his characters can give to 
an author’s work. 

The basic theme, primal, elemental, as old as Cain himself, is nevertheless a pregnant and 
timely one to-day, when sophistication has reached a stage that has left little of old reverences 
and beliefs. It is the fashion nowadays to affect to believe that everybody has a price, and 
that society is nothing but a flagrant conspiracy against itself; that morality is only a shifting 
convention, and the only unforgivable crime, getting found out; but in this story Leverage 
shows us the vital truth, drives home again the great lesson that: “The wages of sin is 
death.’’ (All-Story Weekly, October 4 to 25, 1919.) 

Published in book form by Moffat, Yard & Co., Ne» York, 1920. Price $1.60 net 


ADVERTISING SECTION 



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ADVERTISING SECTION. 


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In answering any advertisement on this page it is desirable that you mention this magazine. 



ADVERTISING SECTION 



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THE MUNSEY 


No other standard magazine approaches the Munsey record in 
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Classified Advertising continued from page 4, front section. 


HELP WANTED 


LADIES TO SEW AT HOME FOR A LARGE PHILADEL- 
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YOU read these little advertisements. Perhaps you obtain 
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known about if you had not looked here. Did it ever strike 
you other people would read your message — that they would 
buy wliat you have to sell; whether it is a bicycle you 
no longer need, a patented novelty you desire to push, or 
maybe your own services? Our Classified Service Bureau will 
gladly show you how to use this section most profitably 
and at the least cost. Write to-day to the Classified Manager, 
The Argosy Combination, 280 Broadway. New York. 


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PATENTS. If you have an invention write for our Guide 
Book. “ How To Get A Patent." Send model or sketch and 
description, and yve will give our opinion as to its patentable 
nature. Randolph & Co., 630 F Street, Washington. D. C. 



Ranger 
Electric 
Lighted 
Motorbike 


RIDE A RANGER 

bicycle and know you have the best. Select 
from the 44 styles, colors and sizes in the fam- 
ous new “Ranger" line of bicycles. 

DELIVERED FREE on approval and 30 day's 
trial. NO EXPENSE to you if t after trial you 
decide you do not wish to keep it. 

Facv Pavmontc if desired, at a small 
kdoj rdjlllcllld advance over our 
special Factory-to>Rider cash prices. 

WRITE TODAY forour&tg catalog showing 
our complete line of bicycles, TIRES, sun- 
dries and parts, and learn our wonderful new 
offers and liberal terms. Do not buy until 
you know what we can do for you. A postal 
brings everything. Write for it now. 

CYCLE COMPANY 
Dept. B 30 , Chicago 


MEAD 


INVENTIONS WANTED. CASH OR ROYALTY for ideas. 

Adam Fisher Mfg. Co., 181A, St. Louis, Mo. 


PATENTS — Write for Free Illustrated Guide Book and 

evidence of conception blank. Send model or sketch and 
description for our opinion of its patentable nature. Free. 
Highest references. Prompt attention. Reasonable term*. 
Victor J. Evans & Co., 762 Ninth, Washington, D. C. 


TELEGRAPHY 


MEN AND WOMEN, you can learn Railroad, Commercial, 
Brokerage. Associated Press and Wireless in your own home or 
at our Institute in two to four months. Salaries paid $115 to $300 
per month. Short hours. We make you an expert telegrapher. 
Positions procured as soon as proficient. Hundreds of Teleg- 
raphers Wanted. Write for Catalog. Chicago Telegraph Institute, 
"America’s Finest School,” 3403 Michigan Blvd., Chicago. 


In answering any advertisement on this page it is desirable that you mention this magazine. 



ADVERTISING SECTION. 



On ’tour New Home 


E VERY Prospective home builder 

will find our new catalog invaluable. It is 
the Book de Luxe of charming homes— one of the 
most elaborately prepared books of its kind ever issued. 
From the modest cottage to the imposing mansion it shows 
you an endless variety of attractive homes illustrated in 
color. All will interest you. One is exactly the home you 
have been dreaming of— wanting to possess for years. And 
you can possess it. Sterling System Homes, through their 
simplicity and economy of construction have enabled thousands to 
realize this cherished wish and will enable you to realize it, too. 


Sterling System Homes 


are the work of some of the leading 

architects in America. The “San Carlos’* illu- 
strated here is but one of the Sterling homes offered you at 
a tremendous saving. Each part is cut to exactness. No 
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your choice of siding, or shingles, or, if you prefer stucco, we pro- 
vide building paper and metal lath already for stucco at the same coat. 

New 1920 Sterling System Homes 

Contains valuable building information on every 
page. Tells how and why Sterling System Homes 
mean a tremendous saving to every home builder. Here you 
will find a great variety of plans to choose from. Don't fi 
i decide on your homo until you have seen our new catalog. jH 


SAN CARLOS 

' 

6 Rooms & Bath 


, . iil •' ‘ .. 

<- . 


Send This Coupon [ 

m 

and 10c and we will send you this De Luxe e 
book of Sterling Homes. It is one of the most J 
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prospective home builder should have a copy • 
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it contains. Get it without fail. Send the • 
coupon, or a letter, or a postcard right now. ■ 


International Mill & Timber Co. : 

Dept. 1451 ■ — Bay City, Mich. 

Gentlemen : — Enclosed find 10c for your 1920 J 
DeLuxe Book of Sterling Homes. 


Name.. 


Address.. 


. State.. 


In answering any advertisement on this page it is desirable that you mention this magazine. 


TOLEDO 

An Extraordinary Thing— 
and Significant 



No Springs 
Honest Weight 


A significant sign displayed in thousands of stores 


THOUSANDS upon thousands of mer- 
chants all over the world advertise the 
fact that they use Toledo Scales. 

Yet in all our years of experience, we have 
never seen a single merchant display a sign 
advertising that he used a spring scale. 

Once a merchant understands that weighing 
is simply a matter of measuring the force of 
gravity, he realizes that the Toledo Pendulum 
Principle, measuring gravity with gravity 
itself, is the one true, dependable and never 
varying automatic method of weighing. 

And when his store is equipped with Toledo 
Springless Automatic Scales, he wants his 
customers to know it. 

Toledo, No-Springs, Honest-Weight Scales 
assure an exactly measured square deal on 
both sides of the counter and their use in any 
store is a declaration of the merchant's deter- 
mination to deal with absolute fairness. 


There are over one hundred styles and sires of 
Toledo Scales to weigh everything from an 
ounce of spice to thirty tons of steel — scales 
for stores, offices, shipping rooms, warehouses, 
mills and factories. 

Toledo Scale Company 

Toledo, Ohio 

Largest Automatic Scale Manufacturers in the World 
Canadian Factory, Windsor, Ontario 

Branch Offices and Service Stations in sixty- 

nine cities in the United States and Canada. 

Others in thirty-four foreign countries. 


We Protect Our Customers 

~~Z BY USING 

TOLEDO SCALES 


SCALES 

NO SPRINGS - HONEST WEIGHT 



You know what 
you’ve always 
wanted a 
cigarette to do. 

Chesterfields do it. 

Chesterfields bring 
to your smoking 
an enjoyment 
so complete, 
so full, 

so rounded out, 

that only one word seems 

to describe it — 

They "SATISFY’ 


THE MUNSEY PRESS, NEW YORK